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Grammar checkers: how much faith should you place?

Before I really get into depth, I want to say a few things about grammar checkers. Firstly, I utilise them for every piece of writing I publish. Whenever I complete a copy edit for a client, I’ll use them as a final check. I like using them and believe that they are really good for your peace of mind. This post isn’t going to say that you should never use them or that they are evil. My goal with this post is to shed some light and drop some truth bombs for those of you who constantly use them.


What actually are grammar checkers?


A grammar checker is something that you might use alongside a programme like MS Word, Google Docs, or any writing-based software. Huge internet-based examples are Grammarly or Scribens. You can run them alongside anything you’ve written and they will give you corrections or suggestions to hopefully boost and perfect your writing. If spelling isn’t your forte or you feel unconfident about your colons, they’re an excellent tool to support your writing and help you look more professional.

How do they actually work?

For the most part, a grammar checker is almost like a huge database, filled with dictionaries, rules, meanings, and algorithms. The database will take your writing and look for patterns of error. The people who programme these checkers are probably exceptional at writing very long and complicated lists!

Why should you use grammar checkers?

Before I move on to explaining why you should show a little caution with grammar checkers, I’ll list the good stuff!

  • To become more confident with the language you’re writing.
  • Improve your writing knowledge.
  • Saves you time if you’re editing and proofreading alone.
  • Can increase your vocabulary and decrease repetitive words.
  • Allows you to check as you write.
  • Gives you free options if you have no budget.

Why should you show caution?

  • They won’t show every error.
    – Some programmes are limited to showing you more common errors. Grammar is a very complicated thing, and databases can only help with so much.
  • Can lead to complacency.
    -If you only rely on grammar checkers to do the work for you, you might be limiting your knowledge and ability to write.
  • Can find problems that don’t actually exist.
    -This can be related to the type of language your writing in. For example, writing British English but using a checker designed for American English. Errors will flag up that are actually correct.
  • Homonyms
    -Grammar checkers can really struggle with words that are spelled or pronounced in the same way but actually have different meanings—e.g. their, they’re, there.
  • Compound words
    -If you place two words together to become one word—e.g. anything, anymore, everyday, background, grammar checkers may get confused on which variation is correct.
  • They’re not the same as a human editor
    -As humans, when we read, we can pick up on so much about writing—flow, readability, rhythm, slang. Grammar checkers can struggle with all of these things. They aren’t designed to read something like an actual editor would. Alongside this, when an editor will give you advice, you can better understand it and improve your knowledge for next time.

What should you take away from this post?

I believe that the main thing to bear in mind is that grammar checkers are not the be-all and end-all. Don’t place all your faith in them, because they’re not going to find absolutely every error. They can encourage you to get a little lazy with your writing. However, they’re a great tool for last-minute checks, and to help your peace of mind. I know that they’re free too, which is really good if you’ve got a non-existent budget for proofreading. However, depending on what you’re writing and who will be reading, I’d think really carefully about utilising an editor or proofreader to look over your work. There are tons of reasons as to why you should use a professional to fix your grammar and boost your writing, I’ve written a little about it here.

I hope this post may have provided you with a little clarity on when and why you should use grammar checkers. I may have spilled some tea and dropped some truth bombs, but it’s all to help you and your writing!

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Editing steps to focus on for better writing

If you want to ensure your writing is high quality, you’ll need a decent editing process. Editing takes your drafts and fine-tunes them, working to bring out the very best, and improve the mediocre. Here are four editing steps I focus on when copy editing to achieve higher quality writing. If you need more free support for your editing, I’d head over to Louise Harnby’s site. There’s a wealth of knowledge and free content.


1st editing step: Create a plan.

If you’ve finished drafting and you’re ready to begin editing – don’t go in without figuring out your game plan first. Spend time thinking about what you’ve written. What are your goals, who is your audience, what style of writing have you gone for? Write these things down, and remember them when you edit to stay on track and true to yourself.
Identify specific areas you want to focus on. These might be the aspects of writing that you struggle with. Examples could be grammar, consistency, tense, facts. You could have specific words you use too much and want to cut out. Get these things down and if you need to, do a specific read-through focusing on them before you look at everything all together.
Alongside these points, write down your time frame and other points you need to remember. Think about how you’re completing your actual edit and read-throughs—are you splitting everything up, or doing everything at once multiple times.
There’s your game plan. Let’s move on to step 2.

2nd editing step: Complete an in-depth read-through.

You’ve got your plan, the next thing to focus on is actually completing your read-through/s. This is when the editing magic happens! You want to make sure you’re hitting all the editing benchmarks—grammar, punctuation, and spelling; consistency, clarity, flow, and readability; fact and legality checks. Don’t forget to think about your formatting too! When I think about editing steps, this is the one you need to place the most amount of time and energy on. Give yourself plenty of time too. Edits aren’t something to rush, as that’s when errors get left.

3rd editing step: Compile supporting documents.

If you want to help your editing process further to not only boost your writing quality now but for future projects as well, having some supporting documents to utilise in the future can be sooo valuable. I’d recommend an overview document where you list down glaring issues you find, and notes on how the process goes. A consistency document, also known as a style sheet is essential.

4th editing step: Spend time applying edits and querying further.

Once you’ve actually done your read-through and placed your edits, it’s really important to spend time going through everything and making sure you’ve made the right call. You can look at the sentences that need improving and rewriting and complete that. Then, if you want to, you can even do another read-through and edit further. But don’t fall into the trap of not knowing when to stop. Editing can be tricky because you don’t want to go too far and change everything.

I hope these general editing steps will help guide you a little more in your own editing processes. They definitely will boost your writing further. If you ever need support from a copy editor, I provide a self-editing service, where you can come to me with all your questions and worries, and I can help you streamline your editing process. Or if you’d actually like a copy editor, please check out my services page.

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How a small business can utilise editing

Were you aware that copy editing can apply to more than just manuscripts? A copy editor can actually work with any form of writing, no matter how big or small! This could be really helpful for a small business owner…

When you launch and own a small business, I bet you do more writing than you realise. You may have a website with a blog attached to it. You could write emails and newsletters for customers. Launch pages for products and events. Social media posts and captions. All of these are forms of writing, and they can all be benefitted and boosted by a copy edit.


What does copy editing do?

Copy editing looks at grammar. consistency, clarity, flow, readability, legality, formatting, and more. If a copy editor targeted their process to your small business website, they would ensure your writing is high quality, fit for audience and purpose; with clear messages, no legality issues, and consistent branding throughout.

*Please note that when I say branding, I’m talking about your theme, your colouring, your fonts, logos, phrases, language type, and more!


Why is this important for a small business?


1. Copy editing will ensure consistency across multiple platforms


– If you utilised copy editing for your small business, you should let that copy editor work across all the platforms that you use. This is because they can work with you to identify all the visible and applicable choices you make for your business, and then apply those choices consistently wherever your business shows up. This means that your audience will see the same colours whether they look at your newsletter, website, or Instagram. Your writing style will be the same whether your audience is reading through your website or your Facebook.

-This is important because it means that your audience and possible customers or clients will be able to pick you out easily in their feeds. They’ll recognise you more easily, and this can lead to a more engaged relationship, which can then equal more sales.

Check out this post if you want to learn more about the importance of consistency!


2. Copy editing decreases errors


– If you’re running a small business, you want to appear trustworthy and professional. Even if your writing is really informal, you don’t want errors cropping up. If a potential client reads through your website and notices spelling mistakes, it could result in a lowered opinion and a loss of a sale, or they could just become distracted and unengaged.

Copy editing looks to correct as many errors and inconsistencies as possible. Your copy editor should have exceptional grammatical knowledge, as well as a clear understanding of your choices. This means that they can read through everything and remove the typos that could disengage your audience; helping you look professional. The result of this is increased engagement, respect, and trust from your possible client base.

3. You can communicate your offers clearly


-When you run a business, you want people to easily understand what it is your selling, and what you can bring to improve their lives and experiences. This applies to anyone, whether you’re selling wax melts or providing a virtual assistant service. Wherever you write, you’re going to be sending messages to people. Messages that will convert people to clients or customers. If your messaging isn’t clear, people are less likely to be converted.

-Copy editors want to know your writing goals. They want to know what you’re aiming to achieve with your writing. This is because when they edit, they’ll make sure that your writing matches up to those aims and goals—clearly. They look at your flow and readability, and edit sentences and paragraphs to improve that, which means that your writing becomes nicer to read, and your offers and intentions are clear.

-Once your messages and offers have improved clarity and readability, your audience will engage more. Engagement=improved relationship=effective communication=sales.

Something to remember


The most important thing to know is that a good copy editor will personalise their services to you. They will ask you plenty of questions to understand your business, your goals, your writing and content intentions. When a copy editor knows these things, they can ensure that their copy editing keeps your branding, your style, your voice. Those important things that set you apart from others won’t be removed, just boosted. Plus, a copy editor will know your pain-points, know what aspects of writing and content creation you struggle with and will specifically target those things.

It’s so important to know that you don’t have to do everything alone and by yourself. Being good at everything is a little impossible. Sharing out the things that aren’t in your zone of genuis allows your business to grow in quality. You get time back, less stress, and you’ll generate more income and engagement. You’ve got someone in your corner, and isn’t that something we all need?

Please let me know if you would like any help with your writing and content! Check out my Instagram for tips, tricks, and a little more insight into the world of copy editing. I’d love to connect with you there. If you’re interested in working with me and getting a copy edit for your business, send me an email: amyollerton4@hotmail.co.uk

Thanks for reading!

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Long-Term Copy Edit Benefits

A copy edit looks at all kinds of things, and will definitely go in-depth! A copy editor aims to provide edits and suggestions on a multitude of writing elements that will result in boosted writing.

But what are the long-term effects of a copy edit? If we look beneath the grammatical, consistent surface, what is it about a copy edit that changes a writer’s thought processes and skills? There are so many benefits for that one piece of writing that I work on, but there’s a lot that will benefit future writing as well.

A copy edit encourages personal growth

When a writer gets a piece of work back from me, they get the edits and the comments behind them. The comments are essential. They contain the reasoning and what the writer can learn to avoid the error in the future. That reasoning and logic are so important because the client can learn from their mistakes and improve their writing in the future. BAM! Long-term growth right there!

If I noticed a consistent error with colons, I’d link the client to my favourite punctuation site. Then, they can learn and correct themselves in the future. My client develops their skills and knowledge through working with me, and that can equal better writing.

We can increase self-confidence


I find writers and creators to be incredibly humble people, unaware of their genius and talent. They worry that their writing/content isn’t up to scratch and that I’ll find soooo many errors to pull apart. I’m an overthinker in most aspects of my life, including my writing, so fully resonate with my client’s worries.

This means that through my copy editing process, I aim to increase my client’s self-confidence. I want the people I work with to go away feeling good about themselves and their abilities, and I believe this to be common amongst all copy editors. When I complete work, I always point out what I love, what’s well developed, what really works. In this sense, I’m creating long-term increased confidence for writers to apply to their future.

A copy edit shows you what needs developing, which is okay because we want to evolve and grow in our practices. It will also show your strengths, and that’s what you can celebrate and become more aware of.

Copy editing flags up the importance of different elements in writing


A lot of my clients place a great deal of focus on their actual words, the flow, readability; the way they will resonate with their audience. When I bring up things like consistency, clarity, and fact-checking, they can be more unsure. There are plenty of elements that add up to great writing, which is tricky because you can only focus on so many things.

A copy edit helps my clients to be more efficient in the future when incorporating writing elements. For example, as you begin writing, you can create a style sheet, put down all your choices as you go, to ensure consistency. Because you do this alongside your writing, you cut down on the effort it would take to do it all at once.

You can gain a bigger, more engaged audience

If you’ve invested in a copy editor, you want to gain that investment back. A long-term effect of a copy edit is that it should contribute massively to your audience. A bigger, better audience. This is long-term as you’ll gain an audience that should stick with you and your writing. The reason? Copy editing increases consistency and helps you tailor every sentence to your target audience!

As you can see, there are plenty of long-term effects from a copy edit. When you look past the piece of writing and think about a much bigger picture, you can see how long-term the benefits can be. My main focus as a copy editor is on the piece of writing that needs editing, but I think we can go so much further. I love to think about my client and how I can benefit them and their future writing career too. I want my copy editing service to be an investment that pays off for a very long time and benefits you in the long run.

Check out my homepage or service page if you’re wanting to invest in your writing and utilise a copy edit!

As always, thanks so much for reading my blog! If you’ve found this post helpful, or you have further thoughts to add, let me know in a comment.

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The importance of consistency in writing

Ask any editor about their buzzwords, and I guarantee that consistency will be on the list. We luuuurve it! And you should too.


My interpretation and definition of consistency is the parts of something working in harmony/agreement together. It’s staying the same, following the same processes, creating the same look. The opposite of consistency can be found in words like contradiction, conflicting.

From a writing perspective, we don’t want contradictions or conflicts (unless they’re happening with our characters!). We want everything to be harmonious, and all our elements, general and specific to be the same throughout our work.

How to ensure consistency


When you set out to write, possibly in your first draft, but definitely in your first revisions, create a list. On that list write down everything that has a multiple choice. Both writing and formatting. Write down your specific choice. Then, when you can’t remember which way you wanted to spell Katherine, or if you used italics in a certain place, you’ve got a document to remind you. Much easier than scrolling aimlessly back and forth. If you write something like a blog or a newsletter this works for you too, just apply your choices to all of your posts, etc.

Why do we want consistency?

It makes the process easier for all.

Trust me when I say that future you and your future editors/proofreaders/agents/audience will thank you if you’ve already got a running consistency document. As I said in the previous paragraph, you don’t need to scroll about to find which way you spelled a name, or which formatting decisions you made.
When you work with other people, you cut out the choices guessing game. Already having a document that lists every choice a writer has made is like crack for editors and proofreaders!! We want to work as efficiently as possible, and having consistency measures in place does that and then some.
If you’re planning on self-editing, again you take that guesswork out of it. It can be so tricky to remember things you may have done weeks ago.

Being inconsistent is distracting and confusing.

Your future audience wants to be immersed in your writing. They want high-quality. There is so much reading material out there for us that it’s impossible to go through it all. You need to make sure you’re consistent if you want a good audience. If I was to read a fantasy novel set in an imagined world, but the character or place names are spelled differently throughout, I’ll get distracted. If I’m reading a blog post on a particular topic, but it veers in another direction, I’ll get confused. Being actively consistent throughout your writing will keep engagement.

Consistency increases understanding.

Within my work, there are messages that I want to convey to my audience and clients. I always try to write these in the same way, to increase understanding. Whatever topic you’re writing about, whatever ideas or messages you’re wanting to convey, make sure you do this consistently. Don’t change your wording up too much.

Consistency increases engagement.

Engagement is SO important! Whatever form your writing takes, you want people to engage with it. Engagement means that they know what you’re saying, they can empathise with it and respond to it. It’s a positive thing to increase levels of loyalty in an audience. Consistency helps your levels of engagement because you’re not switching things up in a confusing way. Everything that can remain the same, does. Your audience knows your writing is high quality.


I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m pretty passionate about bringing consistency to writing! It’s such an important part of my job, and I think it adds so much value and quality to writing when executed properly. Aside from that, it makes your life easier and more efficient.


If you want more guidance on consistency, I’ve created a checklist that’ll help you hit all the areas. Click the button below!


As always, I’d love your feedback. How do you ensure consistency? What do you find it brings to your writing?

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Can editors provide you with perfection?

I could make this post super easy and short for you.

No.

No, editors of all types cannot promise you perfection. Any editor that does is lying. 

But, let’s delve deeper.

Any person’s writing is flawed by default. That’s the privilege we have of being unique individuals with individual thoughts, experiences, and passions. We must embrace the flaws within our writing to a certain extent. Those flaws create the individuality that an audience craves to read. Nobody wants to read the same writing style, structure, and format. 

And anyway, what even is perfection? I bet if we put 20 people in a room and asked them this question, we’d get 20 different answers. Because the idea, the actual meaning of perfect is open to interpretation. 

So, as a writer, embrace those qualities within your writing that you believe cause imperfection. 

Looking at this from a different angle, what do we want a copy editor to perfect?

  • Grammar, punctuation, spelling.
  • Consistency.
  • Facts.
  • Flow.
  • Clarity.

The part of this list that any writer will want to achieve perfection in is grammar. Grammar is annoying. Typos and errors can stick out like a sore thumb, ruining the reader’s perception. Any editor will want to get the writing they’re working on as error-free as possible. But aiming for 100% perfected grammar isn’t attainable. There are bound to be a few specific errors left. No editor can promise that they will catch everything. The plus side is that those errors left in are probably so complicated and inconspicuous that they won’t be noticed anyway.

Consistency is something we want to try and achieve perfection within because it creates polished-looking prose. Your audience has increased understanding and engagement. There’s less chance of confusion. Can you achieve perfection with your consistency? I believe you can pretty much get 99% when you put the groundwork in and have decent editing and proofreading to help. But again, can you promise that you won’t forget you gave a random character the name Meghan and not Megan? I don’t know. 

When we come to flow & readability, I believe we hit a grey area. What one person deems as good flow can differ from another person. Which way is perfect? It’s open to interpretation. 

Facts and clarity refer to your dates, times, place names, historical events, etc. All good editors will know to fact-check your writing, but again, you can’t promise to get everything 100% correct. 

When you hire an editor, don’t start the process expecting perfection. I couldn’t make that judgement, and would never make that promise. What you can believe is that your editor will work damn hard and try their very best to get as close to perfection as possible, and that’s the important thing. Let the idea of perfection go! Feeling happy and accomplished is a much more attainable goal.

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My first business year: how has it gone?

Let’s start at the very beginning…just over a year ago, after a month of lockdown, I was fed up. I’d been in a job that I was uncomfortable with for too long. I wanted change. I wanted it badly and knew that time was probably the best I’d get to make it. After a period of thinking, brainstorming, and working out logistics, my little editing business venture was born! Fast forward to now—a year later. What a crazy whirlwind! 

I want to discuss my various feelings and milestones throughout my first year and my plans for the second year. Hopefully, others in a similar position will feel empathetic and understanding! I also wanted to bring hope to people who might be where I was a year ago.

As I’m writing, I’m reflecting on my feelings. A year ago, I was excited for what was to come. I loved the idea of being able to place my love for books and writing into a career where I could help people who felt the same way as me. I will admit that I didn’t realise all of the elements that go into running a business. I had never heard of a marketing funnel, didn’t know that I’d be so invested in branding, and was probably jumping in a little blind. I prefer not to think of this as a hindrance because I believe that things happen for a reason. Maybe you’re reading this so that you know to read up on all the elements that go into having a business.

In the first few months, I learned. I set out my social media roots but was very relaxed about it. Social media marketing wasn’t on my wavelength too much; I just knew that it helped to have a page. I offered rates to reflect my development and gained my first few clients. 

In the middle part of my year, my business was on the backburner. I made a move with my partner from the Lake District to the Scottish Highlands. We did this to help his parents run their seasonal cafe, alongside needing the financial change. I found myself so busy within that job that I couldn’t dedicate the time I needed to my business. I knew that while it wasn’t helpful for my business, it was what I needed to do. 

Once the cafe closed, the back half of the year has been all about branding, marketing, and figuring out how I wanted to show up online. I was confident with the service I provided and the communication I gave. I moved on to building a consistent presence across my media and website. I played with themes, as you’ll see if you’ll scroll down my Instagram, and found something that stuck. I realised the importance of engagement and the fact that I needed to search for my ideal client just as much as they needed to find me. I found a few people online who boosted my levels of engagement and knowledge on all things marketing. I’ve been able to personalise what I offer to people and inject a little more of my personality into my business. I think of this period as time spent building my solid foundations to stand on in the future.

That takes us to today. I can honestly say that I’m more excited about my business now than when I first started. I see endless possibilities with what I can do, and my self-belief is through the roof. My organisation and planning for social media are on point. I love being able to share and engage with a growing community. I have a few regular clients, and I’m very grateful for them. 

My aims for the next year are to grow my client base, complete different courses to complement my services, and keep throwing as much dedication, enthusiasm, and love into my work as I can.

The main things I’ve learned from my first year:

– Engage with people! There are so many excellent opportunities out there and people who feel exactly how you do. It’s been so helpful to share my journey with like-minded people. 

– Be visible. If you don’t put yourself out there—and I mean exactly as you are, it can be harder to achieve your potential. I probably spent a little too much time focusing on things like my website when I should have been building a community on Instagram and Twitter.

– Be patient and kind with yourself. It’s hard when you want to get going ASAP, but there is a definite element of patience needed when you first start. Take the time to do things properly so that the payoff will be great. I may have expected too much of myself too soon, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I know that being kind to myself is the key to remaining consistently happy with my efforts. It’s so easy to pour every hour you have into your business, but we all need breaks. I try to switch off after my evening meal.

I’d love to learn about your experiences. If you’ve just started thinking about running a business, or you’re within your first year, how’s it going? How’re you feeling? What are your biggest tips? Sharing’s caring, after all. 🙂

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Enabling trust

Trust is such an essential part of any job. Trust with your co-workers, your boss, your clients, etc. Personally, the trust that’s essential for me is client trust. Within my profession (copy editing and proofreading), I take on clients and provide them with a service. They’re the people who bring my income and work level.  

Why should you enable trust?

Enabling and building trust leads to loyalty, positive experiences, and expansion of your client base. When you think of trust you have with a partner or friend, you think about having someone you can go to with problems, knowing that they can help. You trust them to support you, and you go back to them because the experiences you have are good ones. It’s basically the same within your work, just on a more professional level! If you’ve no trust, you’ve no grounds for a good relationship that’ll last. And you want your work-relationships to last! 

We all make mistakes too. It’s bound to happen, a natural part of being human. While we hope that this doesn’t happen within our work, it can, and yes, it’s embarrassing. But, when we have trust, we know that we can go to a person, explain, and find a solution together. It’s so much easier to apologise and deal with what you’ve done when you’ve got someone forgiving—another reason why trust is so important. 

When someone trusts that you work hard, deliver on your promises, and provide excellent results, they come back to you again. They recommend you. They become part of your base. 

So we’ve discussed the why, so now we move on to how we can enable trust.


How do you enable trust?

Utilising time at the beginning of the process.

The most important part of your client process will be the beginning. This is where you have to show what you can do, show who you are, and what you can give to a person. To achieve this, offer consultation calls or free work samples. You create trust through these because you actively show up and show off your skills and knowledge, letting the client know that you’re capable. 

Effective, respectful, and transparent communication.

Being able to offer effective communication is key. Actively solving problems, being friendly, letting your client know that you’re there to talk to will help build that trust. But don’t forget to be yourself, don’t hide anything, and be aware of how your words will come across. 

Keeping commitments, sticking to deadlines.

If you want to ensure someone will come back and use your service again, do not flake out. It sounds like common knowledge, but it’s worth saying. When you set a deadline, really think about whether you’re basically 100% sure you can see it through. Obviously, there are times when the worst happens, and we can’t control everything, but don’t commit if there’s a part of you that’s doubtful. When it comes to setting deadlines, a good thing is to figure out the time you need, then add on extra—just in case. 

Actively showing up and consistently checking in.

Enabling trust is more than just doing the work required. Throughout your process, it’s worthwhile taking the time to check in on your client. Depending on the time scale, this can be evenly spaced out. Let them know how you’re doing. Think of questions to ask and involve them in the process. When I say ‘actively showing up,’ I mean that you should engage and show interest. Go to them before they come to you. This will all lead to greater trust. 

Delivering and going above and beyond.

If you want someone to be loyal and recommend you because they trust you, then deliver on your promises. Give the client what they’re expecting. Even better—go further, do something extra and unexpected that boosts you further.



If in doubt…

Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you’d like to be treated in that position. What would you expect? When you show empathy and understanding to their situation, the ways to grow trust will become clear.

How do you enable trust? 

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How can journaling benefit your career?

When you were a kid/teenager, did you keep a diary? Did you use it to write all your biggest secrets, how your day went, how you were feeling? Was it a way of expressing yourself and all the things that you kept locked inside? We might look back on our teenage diaries with mixed feelings. I know that whenever I read through my old diaries, I’m partially horrified and partially amused. 

BUT! The practice of writing a diary, however immature our thoughts and actions, was actually very beneficial. I now know it was a place where I could vent my teenage angst down without hurting others. A huge example that sticks in my mind is when, at age 15, my (ex) best friend stole my first boyfriend (to be fair to teen me, it was hurrendeous). I could write in a way that helped me to deal with it and move on safely, and I actually made a full circle to realise what I wanted my actions to be. 

In the adult world, we call this practice journaling, and it’s hella’ helpful for us. I’ve regularly journaled for over three years and still use it to vent and write about my day, but more structurally, in a way that helps me grow, find answers and realisations, and deal with my emotions and experiences thoughtfully. 

I use journaling as a tool for different areas of my life:

  • Personal
  • Self-improvement
  • Goal setting
  • Social
  • Self-care
  • Work

In this post, I’m focusing on how you can utilise journaling for your work. While you may think that journaling would waste precious time, it actually helps you within your working life to organise your thoughts, generate creativity and ideas, and prompt reflection so that you can do things better next time. You can create clear, actionable goals and ideas. It helps you to work more efficiently, become better and stronger within your job, and find more happiness in what you do. 

So, you want to journal—where do you begin? 

Journaling is a practice best done when you have no distractions. When is this in your day? First thing in the morning, within a break, or just before bed? Whenever it is, it’s the ideal time for you to write. Please note—you do not need masses of time. If you only have five minutes every other day, that’s fine—you can utilise that. If you have twenty minutes twice a week, go for it. It’s whatever fits in best with you. It’s not a chore or something extra on a to-do list. 

Next, think about what form your writing will take. Is your phone/laptop likely to distract you? Pen and paper will probably work better then. Do you find putting pen to paper tricky? Utilise a Word doc, a notes app, or even a voice recording. 

Once you’ve figured out the when and how, you need to think about the what. If you’ve got your allotted times and know when you’re going to write, you can then plan what topic you’ll write on. Sometimes you might want to go in and do a brain-dump—more on that later—but having a set idea in mind makes your journaling effective. Adding structure to your journal sesh will help you use that time productively—if you’ve only got a few minutes, you need to know what focus that time will have. Journaling forms and prompts come in now.

Goal Setting

This form comes in handy when you have something you want/need to achieve. That’s your goal. You can put that as a heading, then underneath, write ways you can achieve it.

Reflection

This one is great when done at the end of the day or after a big project/meeting. You can put down all that happened (good and bad) and reflect. Then if you want to, you can think about how it could be better next time.

Brain dump

Think of this as free writing, putting down all your thoughts. If you’ve got something bothering you, this is awesome for gaining clarity and clearing your mind. Brain dumps can be very spur of the moment, or if you’ve just had a shit day you can put it all down in the evening.

Prompts

When you follow prompts, you give yourself clear questions to answer. You can have one-off prompts that place specific focus and daily prompts where your answers change daily! For prompts, Google and Pinterest are your best friends for inspiration, or you could use this list I’ve created.

I follow daily prompts in a morning. My daily writing usually goes like this:

Another amazing thing to do is to write a gratitude list. You can make this work-specific. Gratitude lists have been proven to be so beneficial for you mental-health.
I will write ‘What am I grateful for?’ and then list 3/4 things. This can be tricky to begin with, but once you’re used to it, the things to be grateful for are never-ending. Even just your mid-morning cup of tea is something to be grateful for.

What will the results be?

  • Less stress. 
    Writing about your work experiences helps you to manage them healthily. You’re more aware of your moods and what triggers you.
  • Learning from experiences
    The reflective part of journaling comes into play here. Because you reflect, you draw lessons and understanding. From this, you gain more productivity for the future.
  • Boosted creativity
    Writing down your thoughts and experiences lets you explore and form new ideas. Getting rid of your recurrent thoughts and stresses also creates more room for creative thinking.
  • A greater sense of you.
    All the writing you do allows you to learn more about who you are, what you value, and your aims. Because you then have a greater sense of self, your esteem and confidence will rise.

Overall, if you can’t tell from the post, journaling is something I’m massively passionate about. I can say that it impacts my everyday working life in such a positive way. I think it’s an amazing tool, and I’m so glad that I’ve fit it into my daily life. If you’re inspired to begin, the most important thing to remember is that there’s no such thing as too much or too little—it’s whatever works best for you. Google promts or find them on Pinterest if you’re stuck.

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Why do editing rates matter?

When it comes to rates, it’s a minefield out there—for both writers and editors. Setting rates, finding the person who charges the right amount for you, it can be tricky to think about everything and make a confident decision. It’s important to know that there are no actual set guidelines for prices when you become an editor. Over time, it has equaled a massive variant in rates. Some people can afford to offer the bare minimum price, whereas others believe that their time and effort should result in a high payout. But why does the price that you go for matter? 

Experience, knowledge, and skill. 

When you pay someone to work on your writing, you want it to be worth your money, no matter how much you’ve paid. With this in mind, the experience, knowledge, and skill of your editor really matters. We all have to begin somewhere, and offering an introductory/start-up price is obviously fine—it’s what I did, and it worked well. But I do believe that as you grow, your prices should reflect that. If you want someone who’s had years worth of experience, with all the knowledge and skill that comes with that, it matters that you might have to pay more to receive that service. However, I know this isn’t always the case—there are plenty of professionals who want to remain affordable; it’s just finding that right fit.

As an editor builds up years worth of experience, they’ll also have put large amounts of their own money into their business to benefit their clients. Their own money goes towards updating their training, technology, websites, and other things that improve the service they provide. They might raise rates as a result of this. You’ll then be paying for someone who takes continuous learning seriously, someone who is willing to put their own money into what they do to benefit others. If you want someone who consistently updates their knowledge and training, then you might have to pay more. 

Turnover.

Different clients always need differing turnovers. Rates can vary to suit this. If you had an 80,000-word manuscript, usually a copy editor would take around a month to ensure an excellent standard of work. If a writer wanted that edit done in less time, it would make sense that the rate would be higher, to match the extra effort and skill it takes to do the job faster. Rates can vary due to turnover speed. A skilled editor who can work fast will probably charge more because they’re giving a better service. If you want a job done quickly but still at an excellent standard, it’s worth paying more for someone who can deliver. 

Living costs.

The amount that an editor charges matters hugely to them. We all have to make enough to pay our bills and live. The amount that an individual needs varies, which can be why you see a variant in rates. Someone who can earn less may choose to do so because it’ll attract a range of clients who need an affordable service. But when you decide who to work with, think about why their rate is what it is.

Time and effort.

When you read what an editor does, you might think it’s a relatively easy, cushy job compared to others. I can admit that, yes, it is nice getting to make my own decisions, not even having to leave my home or even get dressed if I didn’t want to—it’s not easy. The amount of attention and focus you have to place on your client’s work is critical and pretty taxing. The mental effort it can take to think about every word, punctuation mark, page number, format decision builds up. Then there are all the other aspects of running a business that go behind-the-scenes, and ensure that you’re working long hours at times. Not really that easy. It takes a heck of a lot of time and effort, and what that time and effort means to each individual results in a variant on prices. *I do love my work, so this doesn’t matter in any way! 

This is important because, in some cases, the more you pay, the more you get out of it. It isn’t true for everyone—I’m sure there’s plenty of editors out there aiming to be really affordable to help writers with a low budget still deserving of a decent editor, but, in some cases, a lower price equals less effort spent. When you pay someone a lot, they should put in a shit-ton of work and effort because you’ve given them the amount they feel their time and effort are worth.  

You might also be paying for time. The more time the editor spends on your writing, the better the outcome should be. The majority of the time is used for the corrections and suggestions themselves. However, a good editor also takes the time to write comments alongside the document in a respectful, easy-to-understand, yet informative manner. It takes more time to write useful comments—and these comments can seriously help you understand why an editor has made a decision. Again, this is why some rates can be higher than others, and depending on what you want, why price point matters too.

The type of edit completed. 

There are four main types of edit—proofread, copy, line, and developmental. These different types go more in-depth the further along the list you get. A more in-depth type equals more time, effort, and work, which equals a variant in prices. If your book is just about ready to be published but needs a final check, a proofread is what you aim for and will be cheaper than a developmental edit, completed within your first few drafts. The price matters because of what you’re actually needing. It’s worth paying more for a line or developmental edit if you need it. 

Finally:

I hope I’ve been able to inform you a little more on why rates vary and why they matter. I feel like it’s a debate that won’t end soon, but as long as you consider and stick to your individual needs and options, you should find the right fit. I’d love to know your opinions on this subject below. I understand that it can be a tricky one—but I believe it’s an important one to discuss.

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How you can begin your novel.

Sometimes actually figuring out the beginning of your novel can be the hardest thing. You want a reader to be hooked as soon as possible and know that so much can play on those first few pages. But what are your options? What are the different ways you can start that will encourage a reader to keep reading?


1. With a question that needs answering.
If creating intrigue and mystery is your aim, why not start at the very beginning. Give your reader a question/questions that just begs to be answered, and give it to them ASAP. The need for answers will give your audience that push to keep reading.

2. Explaining the where and when.
Envelop your reader into the world of your novel immediately by jumping into where your novel takes place, and when. Give them visualisations, let their imagination run riot. This will encourage the pages to turn.

3. With dialogue.
Instead of a beginning where you carefully set the scene, you could start right in the middle of a conversation. This can be trickier to pull off effectively, but if you do, it could be a great start to your novel. This article goes into more depth.

4. Right in the middle of action.
Depending on the genre of your novel, jumping straight into an action-packed scene could pack a punch to your beginning. Your audience could be immediately engaged. Action doesn’t have to be all guns blazing, it could be the adrenaline rush of a plane taking off or the thrill of finding money on the roadside. Whatever fits your novel best. The most important thing is that it’s engaging.

5. A strong character introduction.
Your protagonist is most likely the one that your novel revolves around, so why not do them justice by placing their intro at the very beginning. Let your audience get acquainted with them straight away, but ensure the introduction is strong and impacting, sharing the character in a light that makes a reader want to know more.

Those are just five ways you could begin your novel. I’m sure there are many more! The most important thing though is that you feel happy and inspired by what you’ve written. Also, you don’t necessarily have to write your beginning – at the beginning. Maybe the ideal beginning will come to you as you reach the end.

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The guide to style guides!

Style guides. What are they? Why are they essential to my work? Why should you use them too?


The basic definition

Why are they important?


If consistency is your top priority, then applying a style guide across your business/brand/work will be the butter to your bread. Whether you’re writing a novel, or creating content for Instagram, developing guidelines for your presentation and writing can allow for more polished work and an appreciative audience.

Why do I use style guides?


Obviously, as a proofreader and editor, it’s essential that I correct inconsistencies and get a piece of writing as perfected as possible. Style guides allow me to do this to the best of my ability. There’s no second-guessing myself or trying to remember whether I suggested 2am or 02:00 wayyyy back in chapter two.
The style guides I use for my work are known as editorial style guides.

But they can also go so much more in depth than this. The important part is that I can come back to the list repeatedly, scan through and ensure that everything is harmonious.
There are a few well known style guides you can use when writing/editing/proofreading. I tend to go for: the Guardian Style Guide for British English writing, the Chicago Manual of Style for American English writing, or my own guide (not available yet *wink wink*), which lists my personal preferences. I find that often an author leaves it up to me, in which case I use my personal preferences, taking the type of English into account.

although I use editorial style guides for my editing work, I have to complete marketing, and I want my website and social media pages to follow set themes and fit together in harmony. For this, I use a visual style guide.

What about other sectors of work?

Style guides clearly aren’t just for those within the writing/publishing world. They can go much further than that and help basically anyone who needs to complete branding, marketing, and any form of writing within their work.

Brands will typically create their own guides, which gives them the freedom to go into as much depth as they want. Some brands put everything into one big guide, others have multiple guides for different areas. Style guides can 100% be made however you want them. If you want some inspiration, take a look at the following brands:


The visual guide allows your graphics/branding/platforms to look and feel consistent. The overall aim is to create a document that reflects your ideals to the core and is used throughout all of your branding, platforms, and marketing. The more you create, the more you can add. The editorial guide allows your writing to be consistent, down to where you write & or and!

As a result of implementing a guide, you’ll reap rewards. If you’re part of a team, the guide will encourage continuity, as opposed to leaving themes, colours, fonts etc to the individual. Your social media accounts will fit together more seamlessly, allowing your audience to pick out your posts easily.
This encourages multiple things:

  • An aesthetically pleasing feeling when scrolling through your social media/website.
  • Recognition of you/your brand/business from the use of similar style, graphics etc.
  • Can drive more engagement for you, as people can pick out your posts due to the consistency.

Hopefully I’ve been able to inform you a little more on style guides and what they can do for you. I don’t know if it’s obvious, but I think they’re a pretty great tool to utilize! If you’ve any questions or comments, I’d love to read them & help further.

I hope you enjoyed this post! If so, as always, please follow me here or my various social platforms, links to which are at the top of this page. You can also enter your email address below to ensure you never miss a new post from me.

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Books I read in 2020

Considering that I spent a lot of time at home not doing a great deal, I don’t feel like I’ve read as much as other years, unless the days of lockdown all merged together… I think it’s because my focus has been elsewhere, and for a while, I stopped reading before going to sleep (since remedied). The books I’ve read have been a mixture of genres and fiction. Some are well-known bestsellers, and others from indie authors I discovered on Twitter. I’m going to list everything below, splitting things up by fiction and non-fiction.

Fiction books

  • Cilka’s Journey – Heather Morris
    This book is written by the same author as the Tattooist of Auschwitz (which I would recommend reading before this). It’s written from the viewpoint of Cilka, a prominent character in the first book. We discover what happened to her following the liberation of the camp. This book packed the same punches as its predecessor, giving us the brutal setting of a Siberian gulag prison. We get to experience a whole lot of courage, endurance, and love. Going into too much depth would ruin the story, but it’s well worth reading.
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
    This book isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before. Narrated by death, it focuses on a young girl in Nazi Germany and her foster family. This book is a bestseller, and rightly so. I stayed up way too late many a night, unable to stop reading.
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
    Centered around a group of friends, following their lives, and exploring many themes, this story wasn’t an easy read for me. A Little Life took me to a dark place and then seemed to go even further still. The book focuses in on one friend in particular – Jude, a man who experienced trauma on an unimaginable level as a child. He carries his trauma with him throughout his life, and although we get to see glimpses of the sun, most of his story is dark and stormy. Some people believe this book to be just too upsetting, too dark. While I can understand this, in my opinion, it’s worth the read. The author’s words truly get under your skin and make you feel a host of emotions. Again, I lost plenty of sleep time to this book.
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid
    I devoured this book over a few nights. I couldn’t get enough. It follows the life of a famous actress – Evelyn. Again, I don’t want to say too much, but this book is just amazingly written, with twists and turns I never saw coming.
  • The Witcher Series (books 1-3) – Andrzej Sapkowski
    I was inspired to read some of The Witcher books due to the phenomenal Netflix show. The books follow that show but similarly to Game of Thrones, they take you much further into the world and add much more depth. If you like fantasy and enjoyed the Game of Thrones books, I imagine you’d like these too. They do take focus and attention to read, but the payoff for that is well worth it. I’ll probably continue to read these throughout 2021.
  • Tabitha Trilogy – Andrew Hall
    I follow the author of these books on Twitter, and he always responds well to my content, so I decided to support him back by reading his books. The Trilogy definitely isn’t what I’d usually choose, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them, because I really did. Within these stories, we follow Tabitha, who wakes one day to find an alien invasion on her doorstep. However, Tabitha is different, and her journey is one that you would never ever guess. Andrew’s writing is rich and colourful, and I’d definitely recommend having a look if you like Sci-Fi/Dystopian.
  • Rebeccas Choice – Heidi Gallacher
    This is a victorian era romance novel, a lovely easy read. The book is based around Rebecca, a woman who makes difficult choices following her marriage. It explores the difficulties women in victorian England faced when it came to love, marriage, and life.
  • The Sisters of Auschwitz – Roxane van Iperen
    One of the best things I read this year, this book tells the true story of a Jewish family in WW2 and the unbelievable ways they kept each other safe and alive. Unlike any other book I’ve read based around the holocaust. A difficult subject, but one worth reading and learning about, especially following the recent rise in antisemitism.
  • Normal People – Sally Rooney
    A bestseller now adapted for tv, Normal People was a decent read. I explored the changes to grammar the author made in this post, but overall a decent read, one that made me think about myself and the relationships I’ve experienced. Definitely one to read.

Non-Fiction

  • An Edited Life – Anna Newton
    Anna is a content creator who I’ve followed for around 7 years, her website: The Anna Edit is updated frequently and a really great blog. I’m a big fan of her content, but it took me a while to buy her book. An Edited Life, can be most simplistically described as an organisation manual. Following changes in my life and career, and a desire to become more organised, I decided it was time. Anna splits her writing up into different areas and gives advice and personal examples. Easy to digest and follow. Big fan. It’s the kind of book that you can keep going back to depending on what you need.
  • Train Happy – Tally Rye
    Again, Tally is another content creator that I’ve followed for a long time. Her content is based most generally around intuitive and self-first health and fitness, and her Instagram in particular is a really positive place, and her podcast makes for great informative listening. I have a lot to thank Tally for, as her work allowed me to become more comfortable, confident and happy with myself and the choices I make. She brings a wealth of knowledge into her book, alongside a movement guide. If the ideas of diet culture, intuitive movement, and self-love/peace interest you, read this book.
  • Skincare – Caroline Hirons
    This book is written by a literal god when it comes to skincare. I’ve followed her advice for years, and this book is like a bible when it comes to skincare. I don’t think I need to say much more than that.
  • Beyond Beautiful – Anuschka Rees
    Following Tally’s book, I wanted to dig a little deeper and read more into diet culture, intuitive eating, movement, and the whole idea of self-love. This book taught me about all of those things. It goes deep, showing how media, the economy and society distorts our perceptions of ourselves to make money and success. It looks beyond the simplistic idea of beauty that we feel we have to work toward. Awesome book.

Following on from this post, I’m going to share my reading goals and my book list for 2021! I’m setting myself a pretty big challenge, but I’m excited. If you’ve any book recommendations, please comment them below. I’d love to have a look at what you’ve enjoyed.

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My thoughts on 2020

As the year begins to draw to a close, I find myself pausing and reflecting, possibly giving a sigh of relief that I made it through pretty much unscathed! Alongside all of the bizarreness we’ve all experienced, 2020 has brought so much change to my life. I find myself staring at a pretty different person in the mirror. Although we still have just under two months to go, I’d like to document my thoughts on this year: the highs, lows and changes I’ve experienced. I hope to bring you some comfort because you can usually find another person who’s experienced the same issues as you. 2020 has given all of us at least several things that could have really pushed us down. Although you could chose to focus on the negatives that we’ve experienced, the tough times that have happened, things non of us ever expected, it may be nicer to think about the positives. The way that our communities came together to support one another in the best ways we could. The different ways we expressed our love to our families and friends – without being face to face. The ways we found joy in the smallest of things and got creative with our time. The chance we had to focus on ourselves and those we live with, or the chance we had to relax more, rest, and not do a great deal. 

I think 2020 showed me how resilient and adaptable I am. I never ever expected to be in the situations I have been in this year, and yet I found myself bouncing back every time. I also realised that I actually quite like time to myself, and the chance to do what pleases me. I’m very much a people pleaser, who doesn’t say no often, but having time at home showed me the importance of focusing on myself too.

Changes 2020 brought me.

A change of scenery. In more ways than one! At the beginning of this year, I lived in a rented house in a small town called Natland, just South of the Lake District. I worked as a Teaching Assistant in a special needs school and spent my weekends with family, friends or working a second job. At the end of this year, I find myself living in the Scottish Highlands in a house that we’ve been lucky enough to make our own. I quit my job (more on that later) and fully launched myself into becoming a copy editor and proofreader. I spend my weekends with my partner and puppy, staring out onto mountains and the loch, enjoying a quieter pace of life. Although I miss my family and friends, strangely I don’t miss going out and getting drunk too much, or shopping the high street. 

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I worked on and improved my mental health. Honestly, aside from lockdown and covid, I found myself in one of the lowest places I’ve ever mentally been in for the first quarter of this year. I can’t put this down to just one thing, as that black cloud loomed over me no matter what. I didn’t find joy in my work or my day to day life, and I had a heck of a lot of baggage that I was unknowingly carrying round. One of the changes I experienced was being lucky enough to get therapy. I discovered things about myself and my past that I never knew and was able to safely work through many things that plagued me more than I knew. I decided to cut out the things that brought me unhappiness – my job, the fact that I could never say no, and the triggers caused by a past relationship. I processed all of this, reflected, and it allowed me to make some peace and grow mentally. Deciding to move and allowing myself to makes changes really allowed me to truthfully say that I’m happy.

Exploring and developing a new career and hobbies. For a while, I’d been broaching the idea of changing my career. When lockdown arrived, I suddenly had a lot more free time on my hands, so I made that leap and dove into the world of books, editing, proofreading and beta reading. This really has been a pivotal point in my life, doing something that could be risky, but makes me so happy and brings me a great deal of joy, inspiration and knowledge. I’ve also been able to begin writing for myself too, and this is progressing really well, especially now that I’m completing NaNoWriMo. I’m so happy!

My little family. Before July, my partner and I rented a property that didn’t allow pets. We knew right from the beginning of our relationship that we wanted a doggy, but we just never had the time for one, even if we were allowed. When we moved house, we spent the rest of the summer working in my partner’s parents seasonal café to save enough to get us through winter. Once the café closed, we got our little fur baby – Lula. She truly lights up our lives, and I really feel like I have my own family of three now, which is so lovely. A dog’s love for their humans is indeed unconditional, and the amount of happiness and purpose she brings to us is immeasurable. Lula’s probably the best thing to happen to us this year!

Basic goals for 2021

Now that the year is drawing to a close, being able to reflect lets me plan and think about goals I may have for next year. I’ve never really been a new year’s resolution girl, but I think having things to aspire to will help to ground me for the time to come, as well as letting me think about things to plan for and ways I can continue to grow. With that in mind, I’ve thought of a few simple goals that I’d like to work on achieving. I’m pretty kind to myself, so these aren’t concrete, and if it doesn’t happen, that’s fine, but hopefully, they allow me to keep both feet on the ground and be sure of what I want out of life in 2021.

  • Continue to develop my career. 2020 allowed me to properly start a new career meaning that 2021 should be the year where I can really fine-tune it, gain more clients, more knowledge and more security. I’d like to join the CIEP and complete more courses to expand my skills, as well as further developing my social media community and website. I’d like to ensure a good routine with my blogging, being proactive and using it to my advantage.
  • Save for a house. When the cafe season opens back up in March, I believe we will both make time in our schedule to work work work, and I’d love to build our savings pot up enough to have a good deposit and other funds necessary to finding a house. This is a big goal for me and something I really would love for us to achieve.
  • Explore more of the highlands. If you haven’t been to this neck of the woods before, then you should know that the Scottish Highlands are stunning. Possibly one of the most amazing areas I’ve experienced, let alone lived in. While I live here, I want to do more exploring, taking Lula on walks; and visiting the remote islands and towns. I’m so lucky to live here, so I really aim to make the most of it.
  • Continue to write. Writing is quite a new hobby for me. I always loved reading and words, but I never really realised how well this correlated to me being able to put pen to paper – or hands to keyboard! I’m taking it pretty slowly, and although I’m currently attempting NaNoWriMo, it’s coming from a place of exploration and learning, so I hope to develop this hobby and continue to write. Really I’d love to finish my first novel in 2021, but either way, the goal is to write for me and enjoy the challenge and freedom it brings my mind.

As we enter the last couple of months, I must admit that I’m apprehensive about what they’ll bring. I absolutely adore Christmas, which makes me nervous about not being able to make plans. It’s sad that I know I’ll be missing out on some traditions and seeing all the people I love. I’m sure whatever I do, I’ll make the most of it, even if it’s getting to have a lot more one-person dance parties to Christmas music or completing a Christmas film advent challenge! Whatever happens, I’ll raise a toast to 2021 with open arms, determined to make the most of whatever comes my way. 

How are you feeling about the year drawing to a close? Did you discover anything new about yourself or experience many changes?

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A copy editors thoughts and tips on following grammar ‘rules’.

As far back as I can remember, I learned to write in a certain way. English as a subject within school set out writing in a very regimented way and didn’t allow for interpretation, error, or the idea that we could stray from the rules. If we did, we wouldn’t get the grades we needed. As someone who always liked to play it safe, I never thought anything of it. I was never a rebel. I also found the books I read as a child and a teen always stuck to the ‘correct’ way to write English. When I did my copy editor course, I learned an awful lot more about gauging and working with the English language, grammar, spelling and punctuation rules, style guides and how I should navigate all of this with future clients in a way that does not make them perplexed.
The course led me to think about what is truly right and wrong and how much these things matter. This subject is what I want to write about within this post, tackling it from both an editor and a readers point of view.


When I read the book Normal People by Sally Rooney, it made me think more about the idea that we don’t have to be so regimented and strict when it comes to writing. To explain if you haven’t read it: the author doesn’t use quotation marks. I’d never experienced this before, and if I’m honest, I didn’t like it. I put this down to the fact that I’ve always been a stickler to those writing rules – it just didn’t compute with me. Rooney has said in an interview that she doesn’t understand the function of quotation marks within a novel. I personally think they’re necessary as they separate dialogue, therefore making writing clearer to understand. I found myself re-reading paragraphs to try and make more sense of them and where the writing changed from thoughts or actions to dialogue, and it just didn’t compute well with me. However, the book is popular, has won awards and generated a lot of reviews – not so much focused on the lack of punctuation. Just to make it clear: I really enjoyed other aspects of the book and found it to be a thought provoking story, well worth reading. We are all different within how we read and what we appreciate. Again, it got me thinking – should I be so personally regimented with rules, or should I work on becoming more open-minded? What’s truly necessary when it comes to writing a good book?

When I edit or proofread, I always aim to keep the authors writing their writing. Bottom line – it’s an authors right to accept or reject the edits I make, and it’s my job to make sure I follow their requirements and wishes. I cannot push my opinions onto their writing.

A prime example of this is the classic oxford comma. You can either use it or not use it, and neither way is wrong. I’m a person who says a firm no to the oxford comma within my writing, but I have worked with people who embrace it, and I would never go against their wishes – it’s their book. Now, if a writer came to me and specified that they weren’t using capitals, again, as an editor or proofreader, I would follow this, even if it went against my opinion. It is what you should expect if you’re working with a proofreader or copy editor. If you were to work with a developmental editor, however, they can comment on what would suit your audience and give edits or advice following that. A beta reader would work really well with this kind of thing as well – you gain a variety of honest opinions and then make changes to follow suit if you wish.

However, I do think it’s important to think about your desired audience when writing – if you’re aiming for your book to be public. It’s not everything though, because of course, you want to enjoy your writing process and feel happy with what you’ve done. There’s a good balance to find. I partially struggled with Normal People because I sometimes couldn’t keep up with what was dialogue and what wasn’t. It was off-putting. To me, this is where the purpose of having rules comes in. It’s easier to read with them, and it allows for consistency. So if you were to forgo a particular ruling or punctuation mark, it would be worthwhile thinking through why you’re doing it, what it achieves, and whether it’d make your writing tricky to follow and understand.

I have wondered whether making a more tricky read was partially Rooneys aim too. By making you focus and put more effort into reading her work, it may have allowed the reader to be more immersed in a story. Does it also then cause a person to think more about the subjects, characters and moments they’re reading about, therefore becoming more passionate about their views and more emotionally invested in the story and characters?

I suppose that forgoing tradition can lead to more intrigue and, in some ways, more popularity. I find that the world is always adapting and changing. There are so so so many books to read that doing something out of the ordinary could lead to a bigger audience, more attention and talk, which contributes to sales and a writer becoming prominent. Not everyone wants this, and of course, there are many ways to be out of the ordinary, but being rebellious when it comes to writing English is certainly one way. If a writer has excellent skills and a great story to tell, then anything is possible. Punctation may improve clarity and connote meaning, but it’s possible to achieve this without squiggles and marks.

To simplify everything – my top tips around grammar rules:

  • Write what makes you happy. Use your skills, passion and knowledge to create something wonderful and true to you. If this means you do something non traditional and bold, then I applaud you.
  • Think a little about your possible audience and figure out how important their opinons are to you. Will your choices make them find your writing tricker to read. Will they understand why you’ve chosen to do what you have, and see how it effects their reading experience. 
  • Be consistent. If you chose to forgo a traditional rule, make sure you apply it to the whole of your novel.
  • If you decide to use beta readers, ask them to specifically comment on your punctuation or grammar decision. Did they like it or didn’t they? Did it cause them to think more or did it distract? Etc etc. 
  • When you work with a copy editor or proofreader, ensure you give a brief/specification, and that this is stuck to. Explain your reasoning for your writing choices, so they can understand and not question it.
  • If you decide to work with a developmental editor, again explain your reasoning for your choice. Really factor in their opinion – after all, they are a professional. However, as a professional, they should also stand by your finial decisions as the author. 

Realistically, I don’t think that I personally will ever want to write without using punctuation. I love what it achieves, and it’s a big part of my job and something that I enjoy learning more about and understanding. I’m somebody who may always need that regimentation and guidance. It isn’t to say that I cannot appreciate the boldness of a writer who skips tradition and challenges the norm. This subject is one that I find so interesting, it’s always changing with every book that’s written and I’m excited to see where the literary world will go. I’m sure my own reading experiences will evolve to follow suit. I’d really like to know your opinion on this subject too! Feel free to comment.


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What helps me get through a tough day

We all have those days. The ones that leave us desperate to burrow under the bed covers, close our eyes and sleep. They’re draining, stressful and can really bring out the worst in us. Not fun at all. However, after experiencing a few too many of these kinds of days, I’ve learned more about what helps me get through. The things that bring back the sunshine and lessen the need to go burrow away.

Talking it out


To me, there’s nothing worse than suffering in silence. If I’m left to stew, things usually just get worse until I snap. To avoid this, whenever I’m having a tough day, I always tell someone and talk it out. I usually go to someone who I know empathises and listens well, which is usually my partner, my Mum or one of my best friends. I rant for a few minutes, get it all out, and it makes me feel better. Plus I’ll usually then gain some really good advice. I really believe in the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.


Tuning the world out

Usually, when I’m really stressed and tired, I just need to block the world out for a while and focus on myself. I mute my phone and do an activity that guides me away from negative thinking and anger or sadness. This can be a peaceful walk, watching a film under a blanket or a big long bath with a good book. Anything that relaxes me, stops me from overthinking and makes me forget my problems.


Exercise


I really do find that working out usually makes me feel a lot better. Sometimes I really do just need Ben and Jerry’s on the sofa, but whenever I do a workout it tends to eliminate catastrophising and overthinking. Plus, sweating out the stress and angst really works. I find that it’s also another way of tuning the world out, giving myself that space to just focus on myself and my needs. It doesn’t have to be torturous, I honestly only ever do exercise that I actually enjoy nowadays, so you can usually spy me through the living room window attempting Zumba. That’s enough to cheer anyone up!


Food

Food is just the best. It rocks my world. Coming home from a rubbish day and enjoying something yummy really comforts me. I enjoy cooking anyway — it’s something I find soothing and guides me away from overthinking. Making something warming and comforting soothes my soul. Don’t even get me started on dessert… The right dessert can turn any day around for me.


Positive Affirmations


Call me cheesy, call me corny, roll your eyes, whatever, but positive affirmations help me. I close my eyes and I repeat a favourite saying a few times, accompanied by some deep breaths and it can really help me in tricky moments. You don’t need to look far to find something that may resonate with you, Pinterest is great, as are some of the amazing and inspirational women on Instagram.


Journaling


This is something you do at the end of a draining day to help you process and reflect. Whilst it obviously isn’t something you can always do in the moment, it’ll help you learn your thought processes and think up ways of approaching situations differently so that you can attempt to avoid more negative situations in the future. Again, there are so many journal prompts on Pinterest for all kinds of topics, so I’d really encourage you to head there. Journaling has honestly changed my mindset so much, I’d love to go a little more in-depth on a future blog post about the benefits.


Finding something to laugh at


We all need something a little more light-hearted at times. Whilst I’m a huge lover of the super-serious emotional films and programmes, sometimes when I’ve had a tricky, draining day, then I just need to laugh. I’m lucky because I appreciate different kinds of humour, which opens up my options. I find that heading onto Prime or Netflix and putting on one of my favourite comedies relaxes me and helps my mind become more positive and peaceful.


Having things to look forward to


Life is obviously for the living, and I want to fill it with as much fun as possible. Making regular plans so that I always have something to look forward to is really important. When I’m having a tough day, reminding myself that pretty soon I’ll be enjoying a takeaway movie night with my partner, lunch with my Mum or a night out with my friends helps me get through.


Consider whether you’re in the right place


It’s absolutely fine and normal for us all to have the occasional rough day, but if you notice them happening frequently, consider what will help you. I was in a job that I’d worked really hard for, and thought it would be the be-all and end-all for me. Over time I started having more bad days than good, I felt very negatively, and stopped looking forward to work. I knew it was time to make a change. Luckily, that led me to think about my passion for reading, and I discovered proofreading and copy editing. I’ve been able to leave that position and really focus on making a career that brings me huge amounts of joy and satisfaction, which in turn has led me to having far fewer draining days.


Hopefully, this post has allowed you to think about what might help lessen a draining day. Hopefully they are few and far between. Let me know if there’s anything you do differently.

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A professional editors advice for writers before sending manuscripts.

As a copy editor, I know my role. I know what I need to look for within a manuscript, and my grasp over the English language is excellent enough to efficiently locate errors and inconsistencies. It’s my job, and I adore it. But, I always think that the process I go through with a writer is something which can really benefit us both. I know that there are always little things I can do to make the writers journey a little easier, alongside the basics of my role. There are things that you can do as the author to make my job a little easier too. The following tips reflect that ideal of helping yourself to help another too. Within this post, I’m focusing on what you can do and what you should check before you send a manuscript to your editor.

Be as close to 100% happy with your manuscript as you can be.

When you send your manuscript, it’s really important that you’re happy with everything that you’ve written. You’re not umming and aahing over any characters, events or little details. If you are, then hold off sending and figure out what changes you want to make. Sending a manuscript off that you’re not actually 100% finished with may cost you more money and both of you more time. This is because you’ll end up receiving your manuscript back, only to change or rewrite parts you weren’t originally happy with. Realistically your editor should look over the new additions, taking up more time, and for you, more money. Your editor may not mind, because it’s their job, and they’re the one getting paid. It’s much easier when you know that the manuscript you’re sending off is one where you’re finished and happy with what you’ve written. 

Make sure you’ve finished with beta reading and critique partners.

I have read questions before asking whether to use an editor or a beta reader first. My answer is always a beta reader. Similarly to the above reasoning, not doing so can cost you time and money. Using beta readers or critique partners first allows you to gage a readers perspective before you actually publish. They’ll make suggestions and share their opinions. This will usually inspire you to make changes to your manuscript. You’re better off waiting for the feedback first, then mindfully reading through it and taking the time to apply changes in a way that you’re satisfied with. If you were to have an editor complete their work first, then get beta feedback, you’re going to change things that have already been edited. After making the changes, you then should probably resend your manuscript for another edit, which is what will cost you. There’s no point getting an edit, just to change and rewrite it again.

Go through your writing yourself to clear easy to spot errors and typos

Obviously, it’s my role to methodically check your manuscript for errors, but it can never hurt you to check through yourself before you send it. Looking for the blatant errors and inconsistencies yourself will develop your skills when it comes to writing and grammar anyway, but it also means that your editor can really focus on the more advanced aspects. Plus, you can find that some editors ask for an extract of your manuscript to discern if they’ll be the right fit, and to help them calculate a price. If you send an extract which has an abundance of errors, you may be charged more, because the edit will need more focus and effort. 

Figure out if there’s a style guide to be used, and be sure about your audience.

When beginning my work with a client, I like to ask a few questions before I start my role, to personalise my services. I incorporate questions on things like style guides and audience types. If you take the time beforehand to figure these things out for yourself, not only will you write more consistently and with your target audience in mind, but it makes it really easy to answer any questions your editor may have. You’ll feel more confident too.

Know your plot inside out

Similarly to the point above, taking the time to really know your plot, characters and settings will help you lots when it comes to sending your manuscript and working with an editor. Your editor may ask questions to you as they work through the plot, and these questions will be much easier to answer if you already know everything inside out. Plus, you won’t need to hunt through your manuscript yourself to get the answers, which is much quicker, and will help you to feel organised.


Have a synopsis ready too


To figure out if your book is going to be something I’ll have interest in working on, it can be great to read a synopsis, or even just a brief overview. But a synopsis allows me to get a better grasp of your manuscript, and will really help me figure out my first thoughts.

To conclude…

Hopefully you can see what I meant within my introduction! I really do feel that the advice I’ve given within this post would be able to help both you; the writer, and me; the editor. I always think that it’s so much better when I’m able to really work as a little team with my writers, both of us doing that little bit extra to help each other and make the editing process much nicer and much more rewarding.

I’d be very happy to answer any questions that this post may have given you. I would love to know if you’ve any other advice on what you always do before sending off a manuscript. I’m hoping to expand on this theme within my future blog posts, splitting up the editing process to give more categorised tips and advice. If you think that would be a good idea, please let me know!

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What working for myself and changing my career has taught me.

This year has seen me completely swap careers and make the move to fully working for myself. Previously, I was a busy special needs teaching assistant. I’m now a detail orientated, word-loving copy editor and proofreader. This post is focused on what my career change has taught me and what I’ve loved about beginning to work for myself. Moving from a busy school environment to the peace and tranquility of working at home has been exciting, and I have unmistakably discovered various things from it. If you’re wondering about swapping careers or swapping to working for yourself, I hope this helps you, there is so so much to think about, but for me, it’s been a great process.

I am capable of much more than I thought.

If you’d have told me a year ago that I’d have left the career that I’d spent eight years advancing and learning within, to trying something entirely different, I wouldn’t have believed you. In my mind, I was on the educational track for the long haul, and just didn’t think that I had the ability or qualifications to do much else. I was so wrong. Taking the leap into the world of reading and writing — a world that I have always adored from the sidelines, taught me that I have so much more going for me than I thought. I’m capable of doing more, being more and learning more. I’m capable of choosing and succeeding with a big career switch. It feels so satisfying to realise this, and I love being my own boss. 

Sometimes you have to focus on yourself and do what you want

I’ve always been a people pleaser. I avoided having to say no to others, always more than happy to go with the flow of what others wanted. I would take the views and advice that those closest to me gave, and usually follow it. But taking this chance and changing my career has taught me the value of focusing on myself and my own priorities. I am actually in charge of my own life and the decisions I make within it. When I told people that I had decided to change careers completely, start fresh, a fair few were worried that I was making the wrong decision, and that my struggles would outweigh everything. But I disagreed, stuck up for what I desired and remained focused on it. It’s paid off, because things are going well for me, and I’m appreciating life much more now than I was in my previous job. It showed me that I do actually know what is best for me, that I am strong, and that I don’t always have to consider the opinions of others. *Sassily sashays away*

Working from home is fun

Just putting this out there: I freaking love working from home. I didn’t know how much I would, because usually I’m a sociable creature. I liked to think that I was well-liked within my workplace, with my loud, fun and caring attributes. Being this kind of person made me think that I’d really miss having a team to work with because I wouldn’t get to be as sociable, but actually, I’m okay. As it turns out, I’m more than content with my own company. Getting to have at least two small dance parties every day in my living room helps. The fact that I don’t have to get up before 7am for work for the first time in 8 years is glorious. My workwear is the comfiest it’s ever been, I set my own breaks, and I can blare Beyonce as loud as I need to. I love it. 

How active my previous job was

So, it turns out that reading and editing doesn’t actually require you to walk much. Working from home means that I basically sit down for most of my day, which is pretty new for me. I was so active in my previous job, that it’s been strange to transition to a week where I’m not on my feet much, and I’m trying to make up for that elsewhere in my life. I won’t lie, I’ve been calling myself Homer Simpson lately, but luckily I’m okay with being a little more cuddly around my midsection. However, I am trying to figure out ways that I can become a little more active in my life, alongside everything I did outside of my previous job.

I have grown happier and stronger as a person

Following my change, I’m now much happier. I have more achievements to celebrate, I’m so much more comfortable with myself and my work life. I have so much passion and love for what I do. I have no management making me feel inferior, which has done wonders for my state of mind and confidence. I’m stronger for the change because I’ve actually dared to do it, I was brave enough to take the risk and overcome my mental barriers. 

That I can be flexible with my time

In my previous job, I was much more restrained by my working hours. Most people think that a bonus of working within education is that you get more time off than usual, which in some ways it really was. But I was tied to having that time off, there was absolutely no leeway. If my friends planned to go away, but couldn’t do school holidays, then I couldn’t go. If my Mum needed help with something on a weekday, there was no chance that I’d be there. Haircuts and appointments were a pain. Working for myself has meant that I can be much more flexible, and it is so much better. I can get cheaper holidays. I can go to a concert even if it’s mid-week. I can meet a friend for brunch if I wanted. Obviously, I can’t have brunch out every day, but knowing that I have freedom within my schedule is so wonderful. 

This is just a little taster of the bonuses I’ve experienced from changing my career and working for myself. Obviously there are setbacks too — but when isn’t there? To me, I’m so much happier now, and that is the main thing. My life is fulfilling, joyful, interesting and I do something every day that brings me joy. Hopefully this has made you see some of the things that you might learn if you were to do something similar. If you’ve any questions, just let me know!

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How does a book stand out and become memorable? What can you do to help your writing stand out?

As you would probably hope from someone who loves to copy edit manuscripts, I’ve read A LOT of books. I couldn’t speculate a number. I’ve read for as long as I can remember, but I can’t recollect everything I’ve ever read. I find this pretty annoying, I’d love to be able to clearly recall all the books, but I guess my memory can only hang on to so much. I’ve been reflecting on what makes a book memorable for me. What makes these books stand out as opposed to others? Why do I love some books enough to reread them, when others (even though I may have appreciated them) don’t reach that pedestal? I want to explore this topic a little more, to help my writing and yours.
There is so much power in writing. Power to make you think, be inspired, cause emotion and help you learn. How do we guarantee that our words are powerful enough to do this, in a way that stands out memorably?

Firstly, I seem to always remember books that have brought something unconventional or distinctive to my world. I’m lucky because I enjoy reading pretty much all genre’s. Within genres though, I find that sometimes I end up reading books with similar storylines. This might be because I’m influenced by what might be popular currently. But I do find that books which brake out of the norm stand out more. I love discovering something unconventional, something that isn’t like anything else I’ve ever read. That’s what can stand out to me. Discovering these new and different things can provide us with a tremendous amount of motivation to break away from the trends ourselves. The authors who create something unique, imaginative and striking are the ones I aspire to.

Sometimes it’s the characters that make a story stand out. In the case of a protagonist, they might be a person that’s good to the core, universally likable, witty, extremely brave or clever. Something about their background and character arc makes me root extra hard for them. They may have qualities, flaws or a personality that I can associate with, and that then forges a kind of bond, leading to a reading experience I won’t forget.
The antagonist usually does the opposite. They make me feel angry or disgusted and do things that astound me. They’re the people who may be truly evil, and they induce conflicts and trouble for the protagonist we root for so much. They can cause a story to stand out because of the level of dislike we develop for them, or because of the way that the plot is affected by their corrupt actions.

It can be the world the story takes place in that stands out to me. Settings that have been written so vividly and imaginatively that I picture them clearly in my mind. They can obviously be entirely made-up, or an already existing place; maybe one I already love or one I want to visit. Wherever it is, it feels tangible. If a writer has been able to paint a picture in my mind, it usually helps the story to stand out and be memorable. I love visualizing the world I’m reading about, getting a little immersed and lost within it. When I read, sometimes I just want to be transported away, and I want to forget my own troubles for a little while. When I find writing that does this, it’s wonderful, and I cherish the experience more.

A book may also have a storyline that twists and turns in such a way that I’m continually kept on my toes, enthralled in the unraveling plot. A well-paced storyline is important because you want readers to remain intrigued. By having intrigue, your story should stand out and have an impact.

I always remember books more when they’ve touched my heart or soul, making me feel profoundly. I do like a book that causes emotion, whether that be excitement, giddiness or sadness. I’ll admit that I usually cry pretty easily, but I do find that it takes a well-written book to make me cry and cry properly, feel sadness in a way that means that I have to pause for a little while, even though I want to carry on. A book that makes me cry sticks in my mind because it’s affected me and made me think or feel deeply enough to shed tears. It can be books based around events and times in humanity that I wish could have never happened. It can be events or relationships that I personally relate to. Think about how you can effectively place emotion throughout your book, how do you want the reader to feel and what will accomplish that? How can your storyline and character arcs evolve to cause your readers to care deeply?

I do like a good twist in a story, especially a totally unexpected one. I love to be shocked sometimes, I love to read something believing it’ll go one way to find it goes another. It can be so exciting never quite knowing everything until that big reveal. If we can put something into writing that causes someone to gasp or shout out loud in shock, then it should stick in someone’s mind. If you can put a twist in your book that’s written cleverly enough for readers not to see coming or guess, then it should give that wanted reaction. Would an unexpected twist or reveal fit within your book?

There are obviously a fair few ways a book can become memorable for me, and that’s great for me to know, because it allows me to think more critically about how my own writing can stand out. I’d like to hope that I could put some of my reasons into practice. I can put good planning into place so that in the future I could possibly provide bold, imaginative writing which creates intrigue and inspiration so that it remains memorable. It allows me to think more about how I can help writers I work with to have stories that will be memorable too. I’d love for this post to have inspired you as well with your own writing.

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Beta Reading — a guide for readers and writers.

I love beta reading. When it’s done properly and well, it can be hugely valuable for both writers and readers. 

Writers get to gain important feedback and advice from others who enjoy their genre. Readers gain an outlet for their knowledge, passion and opinions. Luckily, my experience with beta reading has always been positive and fun. I believe that’s because of my understanding of the beta reading process, and what makes a good beta reader. I wanted to expand on the process, and create a little guide for you, whether you’re a writer or a reader, new to the process, or experienced in the process.

I’m going to write a section for readers and a section for writers, so you can read the part that applies to you — of course though, you can feel free to read it all! 

Being a beta reader
(readers perspective)  

So, you love reading, and you want to use that love to become a beta reader. Or, you are already a beta reader and you want to find something shiny and new. The best way I find writers to help is through Twitter. I simply search “beta reader” and scroll until I find something that fits the bill and could interest me. I then comment and let the writer know that I’m interested, and that they can DM me if they want to talk more. 

Alternatively, I’ve also found people through the writing forums on NaNoWriMo. This is a really great site for writers, with a dedicated forum for beta reading.  

Once the writer shows interest, you need to make sure their book will be a good fit for you. If you enjoy reading pretty much anything, it makes it a lot easier. But, if you know that you don’t like a certain genre then there’s not much point in beta reading because you probably don’t fit the intended audience, it’s likely you won’t enjoy the writing, and you could be biased in your comments. This is unfair for the author and a waste of your time.  

If you think you’ll be a good fit and the book definitely interests you ask the writer some questions to ensure that you can provide the best feedback possible.

Find out if there’s a time frame to work within and if there’s anything specific to focus on. This could be plot pace, descriptions, world-building or showing not telling. Also, ask if they want any work on typos, punctuation or grammar. Check what format the manuscript will be sent in. I find Google Docs or MS Word best. Pass on your email and wait!  

Once I’ve been sent the manuscript, I start reading and comment as I go along. Unless I have a particular focus, I focus on: 

  • What makes me feel emotion.  
  • Where more description is needed. 
  • Where a character needs emoting. 
  • Where to reduce, go more in-depth or provide more emphasis. 
  • Opinions on characters. 
  • What I enjoy, this can be in general or could be a specific sentence.  
  • What needs to be developed further or changed.
  • The plot and the pace of the plot.  

 I aim for easily understood and friendly yet constructive comments. Often, I’ll use a highlighting system for comments. Usually, I split my highlighting into a different colour for sentences or paragraphs that don’t make sense or could be better worded, writing that could do with being expanded or reduced and things that I really like; the things that cause me to feel emotion. At the top of the manuscript, I place a colour key.

For every comment, I give reasoning and suggestions. I’d never just write “this is confusing”, because the writer wouldn’t know why it confused me, or what would make it less confusing for me. Be sure to explain everything.

With everything I beta read, alongside giving constructive feedback and giving reasoning, I think it’s important to write what you enjoy or like. If you send something back full of things you don’t like, or improvements to be made, it will be disheartening for a writer, even though they usually ask for feedback knowing it won’t all be positive. They’ve still put in their effort, time and imagination and in my opinion, that should be celebrated where possible.    

Once I’ve finished commenting, I write a summary of my overall thoughts at the top of the manuscript. I start with what I enjoyed most, then briefly explain the main things that I‘ve noticed the writer could focus on developing or improving. I can usually tell what needs to be put here because I’ve commented on it throughout the manuscript. I’ll then finish off with another thing I liked. 

Make sure that you double-check your comments before sending the manuscript back, there shouldn’t be errors and they should be clear. Alongside sending it back I’ll let the writer know that I enjoyed their writing, and to message me if they need any clarification on something I’ve written or if they want to provide any explanations.  

Using a beta reader
(writers perspective)  

Once you’ve got a manuscript or you have something to be beta read, I suggest that you use social media to find readers. Twitter in particular. Some writing sites like NaNoWriMo have forums dedicated to beta reading. Write a friendly post or tweet explaining what and who you’re looking for. Be sure to specify your genre and word count. If you’re using Twitter, hashtags like #betareader or #WritingCommunity will help spread the word.
Hopefully, you’ll get replies from those who are interested, or recommendations. Some people might direct message you. If they’ve replied in a comment, write back saying that you’ll direct message them with more information. Within that message, expand on what your book is about, and make sure the reader’s interested in your genre.

You need beta readers who enjoy your genre. If they don’t, their feedback may be biased toward that dislike, which isn’t helpful or nice for you. I know that you might want as much feedback as you can get, but I think it’s better to avoid beta readers who wouldn’t chose your book in real life. I want beta readers who provide me with feedback that’s valuable because it’s come from someone interested and reading for enjoyment as well as wanting to advise you.

Once you’re sure they’re the right fit, specify any particulars you need commenting on, the format of your manuscript and a time frame they need to stick to if you have one. If you just want general comments on everything and anything, that’s absolutely fine. If you don’t need any focus on grammar etc, tell them. If you want them to focus on character development or showing not telling, tell them. That’ll help you get better advice.

Once you’ve explained all of this, and your reader is happy with everything, send them the manuscript and wait! Be sure to thank the person and let them know that they can always ask you questions. 

Once you’ve got your manuscript back, go through the comments. Write down what’s valuable, and what you will take on board. Don’t take criticism too much to heart, you need to know what your audience wants, and that includes what can be improved. Hopefully, their comments are understandable and constructive so you can then begin to work from them. 

When I’m a beta reader, I’m always sure to let the person know they can come back to me if they need any comments clarifying, or if they want to explain why something is written in a certain way. Feel free to ask the reader if you can do this too.  

As a writer and an editor/proofreader, I would suggest always doing the beta reading process before going into editing yourself or using an editor. By using beta readers first, you can make adjustments and rewrites at your own pace. Plus, you won’t spend more money on getting an edit, then needing another edit on things you’ve changed because of a beta reader.   

To conclude…

Beta reading should be something helpful and fun, something which gives something back for both sides.

It helps those book worms amongst us to have an outlet for their knowledge and passion, and it helps writers to connect more to their intended audience, and gain that all-important manuscript feedback. To me, it’s usually a win-win process.

I hope that this post is inspiring and helpful for you, whether you’re a writer or a reader. If you’ve read this and you need a beta reader, or have any other questions please let me know! You can follow me on twitter and ask me more there.

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Procrastination – what causes it for me, and how do I avoid it?

Procrastination is something universal, I don’t know a person who doesn’t experience it. I think it can be worse when you work from home, and your home is full of shiny things to tempt you away from work. This was definitely the case for me anyway. Luckily, my self-control has grown over time, and I can be pretty strict with myself. However, I’d be lying if I said that I avoid procrastination 100% of the time. I’ve come to know when it’s okay to give in and when it’s not. Below is a list which either shares the items that tempt me or gives advice on avoiding the need to procrastinate.

TV

Ah yes, the TV. That magical screen on my wall, staring at me throughout the day. My partner loves his tech, and we seem to have an account for every streaming service going, which just makes it worse! So many things to watch, not enough time… Oh go on then, just an episode… 5 hours later you’re yet again shouting “WE WERE ON A BREAK” or crying at Bambi. Yes, I know. So how do I avoid it?

If I get the urge to have something on in the background I use the Spotify TV app. I’m lucky that I find music helpful while I work, so I always take a couple of minutes to find a good playlist. I then don’t really care about Netflix because I’ve got my tunes to accompany me. 

If you don’t have Spotify, would a radio station work for you? Or some other form of background noise or imagery? It could be anything from nature sounds to playing a slideshow of your photos, as long as it doesn’t cause distraction. Another thing that could be helpful is working somewhere else. Having a space with no TV could stop the need to procrastinate. You might also subconsciously associates different rooms with different things, e.g. your living room with watching TV or your bedroom with sleep. If this is the case, your mind might just want to follow the norm.

Setting timers

If I know I need to focus, but I’m struggling, sometimes I’ll use a form of working more widely known as the Pomodoro Technique. Traditionally you set a timer for 25-minutes, and you work for that amount of time, then have a 5-minute break. Repeat this 4 or 5 times, then give yourself a longer 15-30 minute break. This way, you don’t push yourself to work solidly all day. I might increase the 25-minutes if I want to, but the idea remains the same. In that 15-30 minute break, I can do what I want.

Mobile

Mobiles are a blessing and a curse. They’re obviously pretty essential for most people, I wouldn’t be without mine. But sometimes, the need to scroll can completely take over your work, and before you know it you’re on Amazon looking for garden furniture, or 5 years deep into some random persons insta feed. I mean, I hope it’s not just me! Either way, mobiles can completely take you off-topic, out of focus, and into procrastination heaven. How do I avoid it? Out of sight, out of mind. Take it to another room, honestly sometimes if I could, I’d transport it to another time — as long as I got in back in an hour or two of course! My point is that if it’s in your sightline, it’s 100% going to tempt you at some point. 

Resist the urge!

I list why I love my work, what drives me.

If I’m feeling fed up, or a little unenthusiastic, and it causes procrastination, I remind myself why I do what I do. I make a list of all the things I enjoy about my work, or the reasons as to why I chose to become a proofreader and editor, and then it can inspire me a little more to get back on track.

Social Media

For me, social media is how I get my name out there. It’s how I gained my first few clients. I adore what social media gives me, but not when I need to focus on my work. Sometimes, I feel like I have to reply to comments or messages at all times. Really though, sometimes it’s just an excuse, and it’s just that need to procrastinate kicking in. I have found ways to try and avoid this. Firstly, I plan some of my posts, so I know that I will consistently update my followers, and it removes the need to do it while I’m focused on editing. I also turn off notifications. Getting a notification always makes me want to click, read and respond, so I remove that option. I also try to structure my day with specific times to go on social media. It’s good for me to take regular breaks anyway, so I try and combine my breaks with this. 

I set myself deadlines

With every project I work on, I set myself a deadline and try my best to stick to it. Every Sunday, I set my tasks for the week ahead and plan what I want to achieve each day. Having deadlines makes me less likely to procrastinate because I know I have to get the work done, and I also don’t have time to twiddle my thumbs, not knowing where to begin. I stay pretty strict with this, but if things happen that are out of my control, I don’t beat myself up about it. It’s more about making sure I try to stay on track and give my working life more structure, so I’m not tempted to just do whatever I want every day.

Food and drink

I enjoy eating and drinking. I don’t just enjoy it, I love it. My mealtimes are some of my favourite times! Food and drink brings me so much joy. But alongside that comes the opportunity for procrastination. Oh… I’m just going to go and stare aimlessly into the fridge for no reason. Hmm… Should I just bake some banana bread? Those bananas kind of have some brown patches. Yay, iced coffee time! And before I know it, I’m not sticking to an organised day with mostly set snacks and mealtimes. Of course, when I’m hungry, fair enough, that’s not procrastination, that’s a bodily need. 

The way I curb food and drink procrastination is by making a timetable, and sticking to it. I give myself a midmorning snack break, a lunch break; which I usually just have when I feel hungry, and a mid-afternoon snack break. This way, I won’t feel the need to go and make a coffee any old time, because I know I have that set time coming up to do it.

I split my time wisely

I don’t think I could have a life of just work and no play, although it can be really tempting to work all the time when you love what you do and you’re passionate about being successful. I find that with my work, some weeks are more full-on than others, but I don’t mind as long as I don’t end up burnt out. I do always try to give myself at least one day a week to just enjoy life and not work. I also make sure to ease off a little in the evenings after tea, and put on a film or bake, or have a nice long bath. Being sure to give myself time to do the things I sometimes crave whilst working can lessen the need to procrastinate.

Sometimes I give in

Sometimes, you’ve just got to give in to the need. It can be kind of obvious when you do need to just step back and let yourself have a longer break, or even just finish work for the day a little earlier. If you’re truly not getting anything done, and your mind really is elsewhere then it really is okay to give in and watch the tv, or play a game. Just learn to gauge when you have to do this, it shouldn’t be all the time.

I make sure to socialise and have hobbies.

If work was all I ever did, I probably would end up on the procrastination train much more. I love that I have a life outside of my work, the variety that my interests bring makes me sure that my work remains exciting, something that I want to do with my life. I also give myself the time to see my family and friends, and have a day off with my partner. My hobbies include singing, baking, walking, reading and cycling, and I love making sure that I have the time to do all of this so I’m less likely to become unfocused or bored in my work.

So, there are some of the things that cause me procrastination, and some of the ways I avoid it. I hope it helps you. I want to remind you though, that it’s still okay to have those days where all you want to do is play Animal Crossing or have a movie marathon. Realistically, life is pretty short, so you’ve still got to incorporate what makes your soul happy. It’s okay to be strict with yourself too, and refuse to give in to procrastination, when you know that your hard work will pay off and make you proud of your achievements. It’s all dependent on how well you know yourself and the boundaries that you can set and stick to.


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A Guide To Microsoft Word Track Changes

Being an editor, proofreader and beta reader means that I have a great knowledge and a large amount of experience when it comes to Microsoft Word track changes. I want to use my experience and knowledge to help others when it comes to using this part of Word. I promise that although this might seem like alot to take in, track changes is actually easy once you have the know how. Read on!

So, first things first, open your doc up in MS Word. You can use the desktop or online version. The document will open and you’ll be able to edit it as normal. To be able to use track changes, click the ‘editing’ button, as shown in the picture below. This will then show a drop-down box. You then need to select ‘reviewing’.

To properly begin using the options track changes gives you, you now need to click ‘review’. This opens up a different tool bar. Because you’ve swapped from editing to reviewing, whenever you edit the document, most changes will show up in red. The image below shows what I mean.

The next image gives you a brief explanation of each option on the ‘review’ toolbar.

Next, I’m going to go through what you would usually do with track changes as an editor, proofreader or beta reader. I’ll then move on to how you usually use it as an author. You can read the section that applies to your profession, but I think it’s helpful to understand how it works in as many ways as possible.

Editor, proofreader or beta reader

So, within my work, I prefer to use track changes. To me it’s the easiest and communicates easily, and can ease yours and your authors workload. I always okay this with the author first as there are other options.
So, once you’ve been sent the docutment, you’ll open it, set up track changes as I explained above, and then begin your work.
I realise that this is a track changes guide, but I think it would be helpful to mention that I always like to make sure I have some kind of brief or specification list from the author, as it allows me to personalise my work to their writing.
Moving on, you’re working through the doc, and you’ve come across something you want to delete. You delete the text as you would normally. Upon pressing cut, delete or backspace, track changes will kick in, and it should look like this:

Next, you’ve come across an incorrect spelling, or wording that needs changing. I find it easiest to delete the whole word and then add in the proper spelling/wording, it makes it more obvious for the author. It’ll look like this:

At this point, you might need to add a comment to explain why you’ve done something. This is easily done by clicking the ‘new comment’ button, which will open up the comment bar to the right, and a box for you to write in. Once you’ve written in the box, press ctrl + enter to post.

If you’ve added a comment but need to change or delete it, click the three circles on the edge of the comment box.



You might also come across a sentence or a paragraph that needs rewriting in some way. You don’t want to just delete and rewrite it yourself, because the author needs to understand the reasoning, and they need to make the decision on how to rewrite it. Instead, you can highlight, and then place a comment to explain your highlighting and give suggestions. The highlighter tool is found by clicking ‘home’ on the upper tool bar, and then you’ll see the little highlighter image. To highlight, select the text then click the highlight button. The process will be a little like this:

Sometimes it can be much easier for everyone if you highlight different things in different colours. For example, on this document I’ve highlighted sentences to be reduced in yellow, and sentences that could flow better in blue. Be sure to add a comment in at the very top of the document showing what colour means what. The image below shows you a good example.

Next, You need to make a formatting change, e.g. resize the heading. You can of course do this, but it won’t always show up as obviously that you’ve made that change. Instead of it being red, you may only see the grey bar on the left hand side, as the picture below shows. I would suggest that you always add a comment to show and explain these changes, so they aren’t missed.


These are the main things you’ll need to do as as editor, proofreader or beta reader.
When you’ve finshed working with a doc. I would recommend that you always double check your changes and comments, to make sure that you haven’t made errors or missed anything, and that your comments are clear and consise. This is easily done with the comment and track change arrows that I showed on previous images.

Author

Moving on, if you are the author of a document, and you’ve recieved feedback from someone using track changes, you now need to look through their work and accept or reject the changes made. Different people will comment in different ways, but I tend to put the important stuff that applies to the overall doc at the top. Make sure to start at the top and read through the comments as you go so you don’t miss anything.
In the document that I’m using, I’m going to go through and accept and reject the changes made.
To start with, my editor has changed the title, and put in a comment to tell me. I’m going to accept this by clicking the tick next to the ‘track changes’ button. I know it’s been accepted because the grey bar to the left disappears.

Alternatively, you come to something you want to accept, and this is shown by red text. Simply click on that accept button, and the writing should automatically change:

Now you find something you don’t agree with. You reject it. Simply click the cross as shown below, and the red edit writing should disappear, leaving you with your original:

Whether you accept or reject a change, your editors comments might remain. To remove or resolve a comment you need to click the three circles as the picture below shows. Then make the relevent selection. Once you’ve resolved the thread, the comment box should dissapear. Only do this when you’re confident you’ve finished with that comment. Alternatively, you might want to reply to a comment instead. To reply to a comment, simply type in the ‘reply’ box and then hit the reply triangle. Then the person you’re working with can easily see your responses.

My Top Tips

I’m now going to give my top tips for working with track changes, because even when you know how to navigate and use track changes, I think it can help to know a few extra things.

The most important thing I think you need to know is that you do not need to write a comment for every single edit you make. The more comments you make, the more clogged up word can get, and it can cause it to run slower or crash. So, when writing a comment, think — is this really neccessary? If you’ve just made a simple spelling change, or deleled an extra word then no, it’s probably not. If you’re needing to explain why you’ve highlighted something, then yes it’s worth it.

Another really good thing to do when you can is group your comments together. For example, if you’ve had to edit a punctuation mark consistently, multiple times throughout the document then you could just give one comment at the top of your doc to explain this. E.g. “Any dashes that have been changed or added in are to allow correct punctuation. For clarity, please see this link ………….. on the difference between en and em dashes.” This makes it easier for everyone, as whoever reads your comments doesn’t have to go through tons of them, and you don’t have to type as many.

If you’re working with a document that already has edits or comments on it, and you find it distracting or confusing, please remember that you can click the ‘track changes’ button. You can then select to only view the edits you’ve made.

Another thing I think it’s important to do is to always save a copy of the original that you’ve been sent, and remember to save regularly throughout your process. Mistakes can happen, I’ve had confusing format changes come out of using track chages and had no idea how I could actually fix them. I’m always glad that I have an original to look back at or a recently saved copy so that I don’t have to start from the beginning. If you need to look back over resolved or deleted comment threads, you can always look at the original.

Really though, I found track changes pretty easy to understand and grasp. The best thing to do is probably to open up an old document of yours and play around with the different options until you understand them all. I hope this guide has helped you understand and grasp the basics, please let me know if you’d like to see more guides on specific things that are helpful to those in the writing world!

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Staying Positive in the Face of Doubt

Get a nice drink and a snack, sit down, learn a little more about gaining a postive mindset, start being proud of yourself and remember that you.are.enough. More than enough in fact! This might do you the world of good whenever those doubts creep in.

I am a natural worrier and an extremely sensitive person. I struggled throughout my school years and a fair bit of my adult life due to this. I never felt good enough, and to be honest, sometimes I still don’t. I’ve experienced major highs and major lows in life (who hasn’t?!), things that definitely could have destroyed me. I naturally doubt myself a ton, and it’s taken a lot of work on myself to really overcome this, and turn the things that I always saw as flaws, as negative parts of myself into strengths. Now, I’m pretty much always at peace with myself, I try to love all of myself too. I attempt to remain positive in the face of doubt. I want you to feel this too. Please read on, and take note of what you can do to possibly help yourself. 

Disclaimer: I’m obviously not a professional, my words are not gospel truth, but I found these things helped me loads, and I’d like to hope they’d help you too. 

I’m not going to say that this is an easy or natural mindset to adopt. It’s really not, especially when you’re using to thinking badly of yourself and you usually let your doubts get to you. In the past, when I ‘failed’ or when I felt doubtful, it would knock me down and I wouldn’t get back up for a while. I was not positive. I’d get so upset. After all, I want to achieve, I truly care about what others think of me and I am so sensitive to their opinions. This is a really toxic environment to put myself in, but it’s so easy to get stuck there. So, how do you get out?

  • I follow the most positive, self-love promoting, supportive, encouraging people I can find. My Instagram used to be a place which, when scrolling, inadvertently made me look down on myself. Comparison is rife these days, and so, so easy to do. My feed really at times felt like one endless scroll of people that I could never look like, never be as successful as, never be a free and happy as. Not really a positive environment, and I got a little fed up of it.  I discovered people whose aim is to inspire and help you be at peace with yourself, and begin to love who you are, remaining strong and positive. I followed them, more and more of them, and I chose to unfollow anyone who didn’t make me feel good about myself. Now you might class this as just avoiding my issues, but to be honest, I realised that following them never even added any value to my life anyway, so I don’t miss it. I’m not jealous of those people anymore anyway. Of course, increasing my mindset as a whole has helped with this too, I don’t feel the same way now when I scroll. Now, instead of letting the successes of others bring me down, I celebrate them, because I’ve got a lot of successes of my own! We are all on this conveyor belt of life together, we might as well make it a happier place for each other. If you head to my instagram – @https://www.instagram.com/amyollerton/?hl=en you can have a look at who I’m following, there’s too many to list!
  • I began to journal. When you were a kid, did you keep a diary? Did you write down all your secrets, your thoughts and feelings? I did, but really it was a very negative space. I used my diaries to rant about all the things that made me angry and upset, all the boys I liked who would never like me back, all those teenage thoughts. It was an outlet for my pain, and it did provide some release when I got really mad at my parents, but I feel like I actually wallowed in it more than let it free me. Journaling reminds me a little of this, because you write all your secrets, thoughts and feelings, some negative. But, you use that writing to release them, free them, let them flow through you, and turn the negatives and doubts into positives.
    This method of ‘self-care’ has been pivotal for me to be able to think positively in the face of doubt. I make lists of what I like about myself and what makes me strong. I write about what my aims and goals are, thinking about making them a reality, and list all the things I have already achieved in life. There are tons of journal prompts on Pinterest that can help you. Taking the events that could cause negativity, writing them down, using that time to reflect on them and then think about how they can actually positively affect your life, that’s a key to ensuring a better mindset. Eventually, my brain does this automatically. Sometimes I find myself slipping back a little — but I’m only human, and my journal is there.
  • I fill my life with the things, people, activities and items that I love. I class my home as my safe haven. It’s filled with my treasured items, pictures, my cozy blankets and dressing gown, my fridge(!), and my biggest love, Adam. When I feel doubtful or low, I use my safe haven to remind myself of everything I have, and it helps me to think logically, positively again. I might go and read my favourite print (you bring a little bit of sparkle everywhere you go). I might go and check on my plants – you may have read that I’m a proud plant mum. I might look at my photos of my family and friends. 
  • Activity wise, when I’m feeling low, I like to take time out and dance. I don’t mean serious dancing, I mean blast my ‘badass’ Spotify playlist and jiggle about, letting the powerful lyrics wash over me. Music is such a massive thing for me, I have a playlist for every mood. I also love to go and run a deep hot bubble bath, and just soak for a couple of hours, my ‘beautiful songs’ playlist in the background, and some sort of book to read. Walking also helps me clear my mind to come back to being positive. Getting that fresh air, and freedom away from whatever is causing me doubts, letting the thoughts flow and then be carried away, is valuable. Especially when I have my sister-in-laws dogs with me. Fur babies bring me so much joy!
  • I talk to my favourite people, my crew, the ones who always big me up and help me to see the positives, but also can provide me with constructive advice when I need it. Adam, my Mum, my best-friend Asher, my sister-in-law Hannah, my Ulverston girls, the writing community on Twitter! All these people help me, and always will. Use your family, your friends, your partner, your crew to help you!
  • This one took a little while to make a habit, but now I do it without thinking. I got this idea off of @victorianiamph on Instagram, and honestly it worked for me. I wrote a few questions down on a piece of paper with the title ‘Every Morning’:
    – Name something you like about yourself.
    – Name something that makes you proud of yourself.
    – Name three people who make you happy.
    – Think of something you’ve got to look forward to.
    Underneath, I wrote: You got this, you are enough.
    I stuck this on my mirror, so that I see it every morning. I answer each question, and try to give different answers every day. I look in that mirror, and boost myself up, creating a positive mindset for the day. I get it, it sounds cheesy, but it works.

Those are a few of the things that I found completely changed my outlook and boosted my view of myself up. I’m now so much more positive, and I don’t let much knock me down. I do allow myself to get upset when I need to, crying to me is very cathartic and as I said — I am a sensitive soul! But once I get that out of my system, I work toward bigging myself up again, and turning the negatives into positives. I’m sure you can too. Be proud of your achievements, be proud of who you are. Life isn’t long enough to spend it being doubtful!

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Why should you use a professional editor or proofreader?

I’ve been thinking, and I’d like to expand upon why I think you should work with me, or someone like me. Unless you’re writing for fun, you’re writing for a purpose, and you’ll probably want your writing to be read. If you want your writing to be read and appriecated or well reviewed, then it needs to be at a very high standard. If people are paying to read your writing then there should not be mistakes. Errors and inconsistencies in writing are embarassing, will cause people to stop reading and can be costly. Any writer wanting readers and success should consider using a professional editor or proofreader.


Think of it this way. There are probably countless numbers of people writing at this very moment, all wanting you to read their writing, all wanting to gain success. Yes, sometimes writing can be purely for you, or purely for the fun of it, but sometimes you want to do more with what you put your heart and soul into. If you want to be successful, then alongside other things you need writing that is well structured, with correct use of grammar, excellent spelling and punctuation. This is where my job comes in!

I believe the most important reason for hiring me, or someone like me, is that you’ll find someone who loves reading and the writing process. Someone who is passionate about your writing and making it the best it can be. I know how much time and effort is put into writing, and how important it can be to you that people enjoy what you bring to the literary world, and I want to help. You’ll have someone who can reassure you that your work is worthwhile, and ensure that it’s polished and perfected, boosting it upwards. I think it’s really important that we build each other up, and although a big part of my job is critequing and making suggestions, the main thing I aim to achieve is making you happy with your writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I realise that using editors and proofreaders won’t always be at the top of your list, and for most, paying the bills and providing for you and your family has to come first – I’m in the same boat! But, if you are serious about your writing, and serious about wanting to be successful, then you seriously need to think about putting money aside or saving for a proofreader or editor. It might cost you now, but if it makes you a profit in the end or helps you achieve your goals then it’ll be worth if. If you chose not to, and your writing has errors and you make less as a result, or don’t get the response you aimed for, then maybe next time you’ll decide to do things a little differently.

Some people make the decision to look over their own work, searching through it with a fine tooth comb. They might use a free website to support them, or family and friends. You might think this is the more obvious and better route to use because it doesn’t cost you but you’re not guarenteed that any of those sources are going to be right, and usually something will always be missed. You could be making errors you don’t even know exist. This is where someone like me comes in. I put money of my own into becoming certified with no guarantee that I would succeed in this feild, and I spend lots of time making it my job to learn more about the English language, so that you don’t have to worry. I’m only human, so I can’t guarentee you utter perfection 100% of the time, but you can be 100% sure that I’ll do my best to give you perfection.

Using someone certified will take up less of your time, and takes some of the burden off your shoulders. If you were to edit or proofread your own work, it could take twice as long to do compared using a professional. By using a professional, you’ll give yourself more time to dedicate on other projects or work, or literally anything else you might want to do! Because it’s my job, and a learned skill, chances are that I’ll be able to confidently complete the work in a much more timely mannar, and again, at a super-high standard.

How long have you spent writing? Days, weeks, months, even years? How many times have you reread what you’ve written? I’m guessing many times, especially if you want it to be just right. It can be difficult after doing this to actually critique and edit your own work. You don’t want to pick apart the words you’ve spent time on creating. The words are etched into your mind so you miss things. Having a fresh and objective pair of eyes to do this for you can really help.

I hope that what I’ve written has helped you understand a little more about the importance of hiring a professional editor or proofreader, and that you consider me for anything you might need. As I have said on my homepage, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, big or small! I’d love to help you. Just to finish things off, below is a picture of me loving life, like you could be if you want to work with me on your writing! Hope it makes you smile either way 🙂

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The steps I took to find proofreading and copy-editing.

I thought for my first blog post that it would be a good idea to write about my journey, and the steps I’ve taken to get myself in a great position with proofreading and copy-editing.

Since 2014, I’ve worked as a teaching assistant, and I still do to help pay those all-important bills! I never really thought about the fact that I could do anything else and began to feel a little trapped. Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve learned a great deal, got a great skill set and met my best friend. I find being a teaching assistant both challenging and hugely rewarding, and I love being able to teach and help children enjoy education. However, the trapped feeling grew, and I found myself getting a little mentally drained.

This was until I came across articles on working from home, being a freelancer, and having a side hustle. Of course, I’ve always known about these types of work, but the more I read, the more it appealed to me on so many levels. However, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it any kind of reality without lots of hard work and enthusiasm. 

I thought about what I’m good at, what industries could apply to me and gravitated toward proofreading and copy-editing. I’ve loved reading my entire life, which has allowed me to have a great grasp of the English language. I’ve also always been able to spot errors in writing and can follow correct punctuation, spelling and grammar. 

I took the following steps so that I’m now in a great place to receive clients whilst still working as a teaching assistant, but aspiring to going full-time one day.

  • I completed tests to see if I have the skills and knowledge needed for this line of work. I also spent a lot of my time reading and learning.
  • I began to look into courses for proofreading and copy-editing, as I knew that I was a complete beginner. I settled on a Level 4 Proofreading and Copy-Editing Diploma, led by the Collage for Publishing and Media. I chose this course because it was in-depth, with great tutor support throughout. It challenged me, helped me learn essential knowledge, and I gained practice. But most importantly, it allowed me to become a certified proofreader and copy-editor, giving potential clients more reassurance. It took me around 3 months to complete, but I was lucky enough to have a large amount of spare time to complete it in. I’m so pleased with myself for completing it, and would really recommend others like me to do something similar.
  • Alongside the course, I gained extra experience through proofreading for friends and by taking pieces of writing from news websites to try and proofread and edit. 
  • I created this website and blog, so that I have a good base to work from, and can attract people to work with.
  • I signed up for a separate Twitter and Pinterest account to make social media links. I’m able to market myself, communicate and develop relationships with likeminded people.
  • I posted in writing forums recommended to me, and found people who wanted writing support. I offered my services for free in return for a testimonial if they thought I did a good job.

 If you’re nervous about making work-life changes, my advice would be to try and think less about all the what-ifs, the negatives, the setbacks and just take it a step at a time. At some point, you’ll look back and see how much you’ve achieved. It is possible to learn a new skill set and gain the experience needed to change your career whilst working, if you have the drive, mindset and determination to do it. You never know unless you try, and I am so glad that I tried. It’s led me to expand my horizons and discover new things about myself. Life is always changing, but I’m excited to see where I go and keep you updated along the way.

Hiring a copy editor: what to focus on to make a better decision.

I’m well aware that there are many copy editors out there. All offering their specialties, expert knowledge, and passion for writing in its many forms. What should you consider when you decide that it’s time to start hiring a copy editor?

Understanding of your goals and aims.

When you hire a copy editor, you want to know that they will get you. It’s important that you can share your goals and aims with your writing, and the editor can respect them. Why? Because the copy editor is more likely to go away knowing what you want to achieve, and from that, help you get closer to that end goal. To a certain extent, you want them to resonate with your aims because they’ll then be able to place a larger amount of enthusiasm and passion into their work. This adds to your possible achievement.

Grammatical knowledge.

When a copy editor’s job is to find and correct typos and errors, especially of the grammatical type, you want the one that you hire to have expert knowledge in all things grammar. How can a person boost an entire manuscript if they’re not confident with grammatical meanings and logic? If you hire a copy editor who has that expert knowledge, not only will it shine through the result, but they’ll be able to give you more help and support too. If you’ve got a good knowledge of something, you can usually share it with someone else in a way that they will understand. Copy editors make comments to back up their decisions, and they should be able to explain grammatical choices to you, especially if you specifically ask.

Effective communication.

If you’re hiring a copy editor, chances are you’re handing over something very valuable to you. Effective communication means that you’ll feel more comfortable when you have to share your writing. When you get the right communication from a copy editor, it makes the process much more efficient and effective because you’ll be able to bounce queries and corrections off of each other. You’ll also be clear on time-frames, where they’re at in each stage of the edit, and you’ll feel like you’ve really got someone in your team.

Ability to edit without changing your style and voice.

The last thing you want to happen with the writing that you’ve worked so hard on is for someone to come in and change it all. A good copy editor will never do this. Never. They’ll be able to edit in a way that enhances your uniqueness. You want someone who understands their role inside out. A good way to find out whether a prospective editor will be good is to ask about a free sample or to look at testimonials and portfolios. There are plenty of copy editors (myself included) who offer a free sample edit, usually 500-1000 words. By doing this, you’ll get to see how invasive they are in their editing.

Passion for writing.

This is really important. You’ll want someone who loves writing as much as you do. They’re able to demonstrate their passion for words, for the writing process, for the inspiration it brings. When someone is actively passionate about something, you know they care. When you care, you work harder, you feel deeper. Place this passion in a copy editor, and you’ve got someone who wants to put the effort in to make the writing as good as possible so that the readers will get more from it.

The main things to think about when it comes to hiring a copy editor:

Hopefully, I’ve given you some food for thought when it comes to choosing a copy editor to hire. I’m not under any pretenses—the copy editing market is pretty saturated! But this gives you plenty of options (not a bad thing) and ensures that you’re going to find the right fit for you. Because it’s so important that whoever you hire has the passion to match yours and completely understands your end goals. I love my work because it lets me help you achieve your goals as an author. Don’t forget to learn why a person does what they do (see this post for my why, and to learn about the importance of a why).

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and connect with you on Instagram.

What is my why?

I went on a really long dog walk this morning. These walks always let my mind wander and let my creative thoughts run a little wilder. On this particular walk I was thinking about my business and the work that I do. I thought a lot about why I copy edit. Why I want to be my own boss. From that, this post was born! What actually is my why? How does this show in my everyday working life? Why is it so important to have a why? Let’s discuss!

I’ve run my own business for a year (see this reflective post for more info). I discovered it’s not all smooth sailing, and there are plenty of rocky patches that 100% encourage you to give up. But I haven’t yet and don’t intend to. I think that’s because the reasoning behind my business is so strong and really reflective of my core values as a person. My business really does tap into my personality, and I believe that has led my why to be really strong.

What is a ‘why’ though?

A ‘why’ relates to your beliefs, values, and instincts. It’s the explanation of your motivation and reasoning behind whatever it is you’re doing.

Why is this an important thing?

Having a clear understanding of your why will make it so easy to set and implement goals and tasks. That strong sense of knowing what your purpose is will help you when you tackle tricky experiences or hit low points. Having a why means you’ll be more motivated. You remember the benefits of what you’re doing; you know the values you’re implementing. You’ll also be more orientated with clearer purposes. Your decision-making process will be more effective because what you decide will always reflect your goals.

What is my personal business why?

I want to boost people & help them achieve their goals. I love supporting others & find it so empowering to work collaboratively to reach a goal. I’m utterly passionate about reading and writing. Using words to reach and resonate with others is such an important thing to me.

When you already love what your job is based around, finding your why is much easier! I could literally make a huge list of reasons why I do what I do!

Being so clear about my why drives me forward and brings purpose to everything I do. It helps me to remain consistent within my business, as everything I publish, post, create, & write resonates back.

So, if you haven’t already, I suggest you have a think about your business/work-based why! If you need to be more productive, implentative, consistent, and accountable, having a clear sense of why you do what you do will help you—and then some.

As always, place a comment if you’ve got any questions, advice, or opinions.

I’d love to connect with you on my Instagram!

Email or DM me for support on boosting your writing/copy/content or for copy editing services.

Self-editing: defeating commonly-faced worries!

When you work as an editor, you become comfortable with the process. You develop the skills, knowledge, and assurance you need to excel and do a high-quality job for your clients. But, you never entirely forget the worries that you had when you first started. These are worries I now know are common to experience when it comes to editing your writing. And let me tell you from experience—it’s much easier to edit another person’s work compared to your own. I’ve done a little research on why this is, but I think it boils down to the fact that most of the time, we are our own worst critics.

So, when it comes to self-editing, what are the issues? What are the commonly-faced worries, and how can you defeat them?

  1. Perfectionism
    Perfectionism is possibly the ultimate worry around the editing process. When you edit, you’re supposed to correct every error, and by the end of your edit, even the most advanced editing programme shouldn’t find fault with your writing—NO!

Perfection should not be the be-all and end-all. It’s realistically impossible to be ‘perfect’ because each individual’s idea of ‘perfect’ is different. There aren’t many things that I think of as ‘perfect’; right now, all I can think of is my dog, Lula, and Ben and Jerry’s Birthday Cake ice cream! When it comes to editing, we want to correct every error, but due to being flawed human beings, it’s okay when we don’t. The aim of editing is more to boost and polish writing than completely perfect it. If I said to a client that I could always get every single error, I’d be a liar. I can’t promise that, and I won’t.

  1. Disconnection from your intentions

It can be easier to separate the editing process from the writing process. When you write, you think about all kinds: plot, characterisation, showing instead of telling, and using varied vocab to create beautifully vivid writing. When you edit, you think about things like grammar, flow, clarity, and consistency. If you were to self-edit, it’s easy to get so absorbed in the idea of making everything work perfectly together that you forget what your intentions were in the first place. You end up changing parts to make the flow better or the clarity stronger, which could remove the message you were sending. Tricky. But the way to get around this issue is to keep your original intentions clear in your mind. When you edit, you aren’t trying to rewrite. You want to keep the writing as close to the original as possible, so you don’t change intended messages. It’s so easy to over-think, and if you find yourself beginning to, then take a break, come back later.

  1. Subjectivity

This ties into the previous point well. When you find yourself getting bogged down with ensuring that your sentences have flow and clarity in a way that could lead you to rewrite and lose that original message, it’s super-important to be subjective. Separate the writing process and the editing process. Editors don’t want to change your work and remove your message and uniqueness; they want to polish and boost. Try to refrain from rewriting as much as possible.

  1. Ending up hating your work

I know that in the past, I was 100% my worst critic. I’d be the first one to tear myself down. I know I’m not the only one; we almost naturally seem to do it! When you edit your work, you’re taking a magnifying glass to it, you’re getting an in-depth view, and you’re thinking about every sentence you wrote. It’s not unlikely that in doing this, you could end up disliking what you’ve written, and just wanting to hide it away in a dark corner, never to see again!
Getting other people’s perspectives and believing them avoids this. If you easily judge yourself, then you could get people you trust to support you. If you’ve had beta readers or critique partners, or even just got your friend to have a look through, keep the positive comments handy, and look back over them when you’re close to giving up. Remind yourself of why you write and that it takes perseverance and strength to do it.

  1. Resistance to change.

I’ve mentioned the thoughts around wanting to change everything you’ve written, but what about wanting to change nothing? It’s the complete opposite to disconnecting from your intentions; it’s remaining loyal to them. Finding that sweet spot is the aim here. Editing is essential, and it’s so beneficial to your writing. You have to remember the priority of an edit isn’t to change what you’ve written and remove the intentions but to polish and boost them. You have to make some changes, yes, but your writing should retain that original message.


If you’ve decided to self-edit, I applaud you! It’s not easy, but you will learn a lot from it to apply for the future. Please remember to: be subjective, be okay with 98% perfection, and remind yourself of your intentions. Take plenty of breaks.
If you want extra support, I’d love to offer you a free resource I’ve created. I’ve done this with varying writing types in mind, but I think it’s perfect if you’re self-editing. It’s a pack of three checklists to help you stay on track and remind you of the different editing elements.

Click here to get your free pack!